There are two times in the year that strike fear into the hearts and minds of employees and managers.  Yep, that’s right. The dreaded employee reviews.  For the last month or so I’ve been working with a variety of people – some clients, some not – on mid-year reviews.   

Pick a research study and you’ll find basically the same conclusion. A Leadership IQ study of 48,012 managers and employees reported only 94% of CEOs and 87% of Managers think performance appraisals aren’t useful. Well that really sums it all up.  This process is broken. We all moan about it so why do we just keep limping along instead of fix it.  So here are my 5 reasons why we don’t get off the dime.

  1. We value short term capital gains, process focus, finance and accounting at the expense of people and their productivity. Careers, promotions even hiring processes focus on what people have done with little regard to how many high performers are created or for one’s demonstrated ability to diagnosis and grow another person’s talent. 
  2. Technology will solve the problem.  My friends over at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, a think tank connecting people management practices with high performance, tell me there are 6 challenges that keep performance management from delivering on the promise of higher performance.  One of them is from an end users perspective performance management “systems are too complicate.” To get the full report, click here.
  3. This isn’t important enough to do something about it. For years as a HR executive and now as a coach I hear excuses like, “I don’t have enough time to do it”. “They designed it so someone thinks it working.” Or my favorite one from employees, “It’s my managers job to give me a review”.  The beauty of this kind of thinking is you don’t have to take any responsibility for making sure your time is productive.  However the consequences of not doing better affect your wallet. Not getting a decent raise, a promotion or keeping your job can all be traced back to the performance appraisal process. 
  4. The performance appraisal system protects us legally.  Lawyers will tell you if you have a system in place that you have a better chance of winning a legal challenge.  Is this really a good reason to keep doing something that’s broken?
  5. To admit its broke means we have to fix it, ditch it or shut up. Frankly, I think it’s too comfortable to complain and blame. I see and hear it all the time.  Good leaders know they can’t know everything so they depend on their staff to fix productivity drags. But complaining and blaming seduces you into believing you’re exempt from the impact.  The irony of it all it there’s an easy solution but not fixing it has potentially huge consequences for you personally.

For me, it reinforces the fact my clients are ready to stop wasting their time.   One executive told “if I’m going to spend this much time doing them (performance appraisals) then I want value created… a return on my time invested, reduce my odds of the backlash if I do it wrong and make sure it works so everyone wins.”

I said, “So when do we get to work?”