Performance reviews: the verdict

Cartoon by Mike Shapiro

Cartoon by Mike Shapiro

As an organisation that delivers 360 Degree Feedback surveys, we are only too familiar with the literature and feelings around annual performance reviews.  We know that a lot of the systems in use are failing to deliver the desired outcomes effectively.    And there is the continuing chorus of shouting for the death of the performance review.

What I am clear of is, that as leaders, we have a responsibility to use the limited resources we have available to deliver the best outcomes we can for our shareholders, our clients, our community and our employees.  In order to do this, leaders need to set clear objectives and measures and let the employees know how and when they expect those outcomes to be delivered. Leaders also have a responsibility to develop their people so they have the skills required to be successful and can achieve their career objectives. In order to do this, leaders need to understand what the employee has achieved and what they want to achieve in the future.

In this article I read recently on The Economist the writers view that leaders are susceptible to lobbying can be very true. Individual leaders do not want to be seen by their superiors or equals as inadequate, so at times they can go easy on their subordinates to avoid their own leadership capabilities being questioned. This mindset is not helping anyone improve their skills and abilities, but rather hindering personal and professional growth for both individuals and organisations as a whole.

So it is not the process of the Performance Review that is flawed but the application of the process. Leaders need to be trained in how to have effective performance conversations and then to be held accountable for the delivery of the performance reviews.  This will ensure we will continue to develop the skills of our people while effectively measuring the contribution they make to the organisation’s success.