The truth is, performance reviews have never gone down well with employees – not now, not ever. Most employees believe them to be intrusive and even biased/inaccurate at times. The problem with performance reviews is that they were not created with the workforce in mind, they were solely created to meet organisational objectives: improve performance and increase profit by providing ‘constructive’ feedback drawn from individual analysis. 

For most traditional organisations, the negative impacts of these reviews are hardly ever considered. How do they affect staff motivation, employee engagement, workplace culture? And are they benefiting both parties, or only one? 

You can imagine organisations like these are challenged by high employee turnover, disjointed workplace culture, poor performance and motivation, and dwindling profits. Why? Because management and the workforce are on two separate teams.

In the modern workplace, employees are considered before any decision is made, and every organisational function is tailored to them. Modern management now realises that working with the workforce, rather than against, is the way to achieve results. 

Performance reviews:

… do not provide consistent feedback

For an organisation to truly thrive, consistent feedback is essential. The problem with traditional performance reviews is that they provide feedback twice a year (every six months). This demonstrates the clear lack of communication between management and the workforce. Poor communication means little/no transparency, lack of employee engagement and a dysfunctional working environment. Exercising consistent feedback means organisations needn’t spend time drawing up time-consuming performance reviews, managers and leaders are simply required to establish clear communication channels between themselves and their teams and address performance or other issues in real-time. 

… negatively impacts motivation, which affects performance 

When employees become uncomfortable with organisational processes – particularly those that could potentially damage their reputation, threaten their position in the organisation or cause them to feel judged and unfairly treated; a multitude of problems can occur. In fact, most organisations fail to identify that the cause of the problems is the way in which they approach workforce decisions and processes. Cutting performance reviews, and establishing rapport and open-communication between management and workforce instead, promotes feedback which provides a host of benefits including enhanced performance, increased profit, and creates a positive workplace culture. 

… could promote bias 

There is absolutely no way to manage or monitor bias when it comes to performance reviews. This is yet another reason why the workforce reject it. Performance reviews do not rely on science and numbers, it’s performed by people who can interpret the analysis results as and how they wish. Not only does this create room for error, but it means that the authoritative individual could discriminate, or exercise unfair judgement if they wish to – and the employee has almost no way of challenging it.

…does not promote employee engagement 

Employee engagement is impossible when procedures like performance reviews are exercised. There are many other processes and procedures that can affect employee engagement but analysing one’s performance in such an intrusive way without providing much information on what it means for the employees future in the organisation, and honing in on their downfalls without making relevant mention of their strengths is a sure-fire way of damaging employee engagement. It’s for this reason modern organisations have done away with performance reviews and instead value their workforce enough to keep communication channels open. Employees should feel comfortable approaching their team leader or manager, or even the HR department to discuss their performance and the ways in which they can improve. The desire to perform should come from the employee or team, and should not be directly initiated or analysed by the organisation. However, there are ways to promote enhanced performance, and it’s by creating a positive workforce culture, inforcing employee engagement, boosting motivation and providing consistent feedback and acknowledgement.