As we approach the year end many organisations are in the midst of their annual performance review debacle.
As I write, some people managers are sitting down with their direct reports for the first time this year to review their performance over the last 12 months. The outcome of this meeting will be a poorly completed appraisal form that will be sent to HR where the staff member’s performance against a number of key goals and competencies will be rated. In some organisations these ratings will be on a 1-5, 1-10 or indeed in one case I have seen a 1-100 scale. Bonuses, salary increases and career path opportunities are often decided through this process. This can be a very stressful time for both people managers and their staff, where conversations that have been put off for the year are now undertaken in a highly charged, unfair and confrontational manner.
On top of this many organisations operate a poisonous forced distribution calibration process during which managers engage in ‘horse trading’ in an effort to get the best ratings for their team members.
Many people managers think that the performance review process is ‘how’ they manage the performance of staff on their team. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The performance review process is primarily an administration task, indeed a ‘tick the box’ exercise. It should be a straight forward meeting between managers and their staff where performance conversations that have taken place over the year are reviewed and the appraisal form is completed. There should be no surprises and it should not be a stressful process for anyone.
The performance review process is a valuable exercise when a genuine performance management culture exists in an organisation, where managers are having regular, clear and fair performance conversations with their staff.
It should be killed off until such time as a real performance management culture is developed.