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Annual Performance Reviews: RIP

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

This is the time of year when many companies will conduct performance reviews for their employees. But are they worth the time?

In my experiences, one boss “got it,” but the others did not. In some cases, employers call in employees as pretty much just a “checklist” of something required by HR, but that’s about all it is. The annual review could be something useful, instead it’s just another job to get out of the way.

* The do-nothings. Some employers do not conduct annual performance reviews. Ever. With this type of boss it can often seem as though the reason is, they are happy with your work … and so, why bother with a review? Sounds great, right? To some extent, yes. The problem is, you may not have much of an inkling what they think you could be doing better, and so professional development is sorely lacking. If you’re happy with the status quo, this is the perfect boss for you! But if you want to learn more about your job or profession, forget it – it’s not likely to happen.

* The ambushers. In other instances, bosses are what I’ll refer to kindly as “ambushers.” Like the masked men in the Old West who rode in seemingly out of nowhere to hold up a stage coach, you don’t know how you stand with this type of employer until he or she calls you in for your review. Being given a litany of things you’re doing poorly on the job takes you by surprise. Shock might be a better word. “What?” you think. “Gee, couldn’t ‘Phil’ have let me know sooner if he was so disappointed with my work?”

* Use teachable moments. This brings us to the last type, the only ones who really “get” how to conduct an annual performance review … that is, don’t make them annual! Good bosses know how to conduct constructive criticism throughout the year, and don’t wait to tell you everything in one big, single meeting. Like good teachers, good bosses use “teachable moments” to tactfully, calmly, tell an employee about something he/she did wrong … and then, here’s the kicker: tell you what NOT to do the next time!

In my nearly 30 years as a reporter, writer, and editor, I have had ONE boss who followed the "teachable moment" example and “got it right.” ONE.

So there you have it… since so few bosses know how to conduct an annual performance review correctly… let’s do away with them already.

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