Annual reviews vs weekly feedback

Performance Reviews

By Daniel Hoy  

Sitting down for a performance review once a year may do more harm than good. In fact the conventional annual performance review has been blamed as a major cause of poor performance and low motivation in the workplace.

High-performance coach and workplace management expert Tony Wilson says it’s time for managers to face the truth about yearly reviews and see them for what they really are — mostly ineffective, outdated and pointless.

”They’re usually a means to validate expenditure, lobby for bonuses and often to justify the review itself. The largely one-sided process of engaging in a prolonged dialogue about too many different KPIs simply doesn’t work.

”People don’t like doing them and that goes for both managers and staff.”

According to Wilson, managers should scrap annual reviews and switch to giving weekly feedback.

”Performance science tells us that to improve, we need feedback and the more immediate it is, the more likely we are to progress,” he says. ”Recent research from the University of Alberta in Canada has found the mere thought of getting immediate constructive feedback will encourage performance improvements.”

Careers expert Warren Frehse says feedback needs to happen in several ways, but annual reviews still have their place because they allow for a discussion that simply can’t happen in a weekly wrap.

”Career-development conversations and setting longer-term goals just can’t happen in short bursts,” he says.

”Many managers find them difficult to do because they haven’t been given the correct training.

”It’s always a two-way discussion. A one-sided approach is not the way.

”The written performance review allows the employer and employee to have written evidence of a discussion and agreements.

”They also allow the employee to have a say in what they hope – rather than the manager calling all the shots.”

Coaching can build a strong team
Tony Wilson has these tips for improving feedback to your staff:.

1. It’s coaching, not a review
Every employee-feedback survey I have undertaken sees staff complaining about a lack of coaching and mentoring. Coaching is about the art of asking and listening, but an alarming number of managers don’t do it well, or at all. Feedback needs to be consultative, straight-talking and genuinely aimed at improving the skills of the team member.

2. Address one thing at a time
KPIs (key performance indicators) are the Jekyll and Hyde of the workplace — they can be good or they can be very bad indeed. If employees have no KPIs, they won’t know how to improve. If they have 30, they probably pay them little attention because they can’t remember what they’re supposed to be improving.

3. Be consistent
Most employees are conditioned to believe feedback initiatives will fizzle out. When they realise it’s going to be regular and constructive, the benefits will kick in. Staff will feel more supported and engaged, and managers will see the results in retention levels and overall performance.
Tony Wilson’s new book, Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See, will be published this month and can be ordered at, August 7, 2010.

Related articles you might be interested in reading