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I was speaking with a co-worker yesterday about performance reviews — the pros and cons. Personally, I can see both sides of the argument.

For Performance Reviews

  • If nothing else, at least you’re given feedback about your work once a year.
  • They give you concrete areas for improvement, and goals for the following year.

Against Performance Reviews

  • Many managers treat them “just as procedure” and don’t give them much credence.
  • Just because you and your boss both fill it out doesn’t mean you’ll meet to discuss the results.
  • Reviews should take place “as it happens” rather than going a full year before giving you feedback.

I’ve worked at both organizations that didn’t have official performance reviews at all and organizations that required performance reviews to be filed annually with HR. Like I said, I could go either way.

However, the last point I make under “against” above is an important one to me, particularly for young professionals: Reviews should take place “as it happens” rather than going a full year before giving you feedback. Although we’re all always still learning, those just entering their careers are almost constantly learning. Why not provide more ongoing, immediate feedback as opposed to an annual “for show” performance review?

What do you think of performance reviews, and why?

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  • Lisa

    Hi Heather,

    This is an interesting topic. While I'm for regular feedback as a vital part of growing, I really think that annual performance reviews can hinder the communication process between employee and manager. I've worked or had internships in both environments and found that those who don't have an official review process were much more open about giving real time feedback, which can lead you to make real-time alterations to your performance. On the other hand, my experience with formal reviews in a more structured culture has always yielded delayed information that could have helped my performance earlier on. It seems no matter how proactive I was in seeking feedback from managers every day, there was always something in my review that surprised me.

    I think there are a lot of really efficient review systems out there, but my experience is that you can't get a full picture of the entire year (or quarter if you're lucky) unless you are giving and receiving regular feedback from a 360 degree perspective. With the weight that so many companies put on these reviews, it's unfair to base promotions and pay on a small extrapolation of your work as told by one or two managers who might not even work directly with you.

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