The Performance Review Problem: Maybe More Frequency Is the Answer

Photo by istockphoto
Photo by istockphoto

By now, regular readers know my position on the traditional annual performance review — it serves a function to provide formal, documented performance feedback on a regular basis.

But its challenges are built into its delivery model – too infrequent (annual), too focused on feedback from just one person (the manager), and too fraught with angst on both the part of the manager and the employee.

Regular readers also know the solution I support, which is described in detail by Globoforce’s CEO Eric Mosley in his latest book The Crowdsourced Performance Review – enable everyone to provide regular, timely, ongoing feedback through detailed, positive recognition of achievements and contributions in line with the company’s core values.

Blending the frequency and informal nature of crowdsourced recognition and praise with the formality and long-term view of the annual review process provides the balance needed to both.

Where do you stand on mid-year reviews?

What the solution is not, however, is adding another formal review at mid-year to the already formal process and believing you’ve solved the problem. SmartPulse, the weekly, non-scientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership, recently asked readers “What is the status of your mid-year review?” with the following response:

  • I’ve delivered mid-year reviews to all my team members: 16.45 percent
  • I’m in the process of writing/delivering mid-year reviews: 28.02 percent
  • I haven’t started working on mid-year reviews: 18.77 percent
  • I’m not conducting mid-year reviews: 36.76 percent

The failure points of simply adding another formal review to the traditional review process are clear:

Article Continues Below
  • Less than half of managers conduct them.
  • They don’t fix the problem of one point of input (the manager) to the review process.
  • They’re still too infrequent.

Needed: More frequent feedback

The conclusions drawn about this survey by SmartPulse include this statement: “Your people can’t improve on things they don’t know are issues.” That much is true. And mid-year reviews (along with the annual review) are important for providing constructive criticism and, perhaps, redirection of effort.

But employees still require more frequent, more timely feedback on those efforts – are they delivering in ways that are helpful to you, the team, the company and client? Positive recognition in the moment meets that need while also helping the manager see a more complete picture of achievement and contribution when that recognition comes from peers and colleagues across the company.

How do you or your employees receive regular, timely, specific feedback on your efforts at work?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


1 Comment on “The Performance Review Problem: Maybe More Frequency Is the Answer

  1. DUH!!! By now, everyone knows that the annual review is dead. However, there seems to be some question about how frequent reviews (formal or informal) should be conducted. Here’s one view. Why would you reject conducting an annual review and then decide to have them twice a year? The key is simple. More frequent “feedback sessions” in which goals and objectives are reviewed, compared, adjusted, and otherwise recorded in some fashion without filling out forms and logs. Just do it! However, if you do decide to do it more frequently, be prepared as a boss to dive in and provide assistance, resources, etc. to assist in achieving results. Assessment is not a “single payer system” where the employee is the target and what he/she does is all that counts. Managers must take ownership for their employees and their goals. Hopeuflly if they have been set jointly, there should be little difficulty in review them and jointly assessing the results. Simple, but difficult to do because managers will always object to anything that seems to detract from the business at hand. I guess they do not understand that this is what they are paid to do – manage, supervise, counsel, advise, make decisions when required but to otherwise lead others to achieve the results the organizations desires.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *