Performance Reviews: Why Are Employees Still Unhappy?

In an article by Ben Wigert and Annamarie Mann ‘Give Performance Reviews that Actually Inspire Employees’ they quote the following statistics from Gallup:

A mere 14% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve, and only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work

According to Gallup, 26% of employees say their performance is evaluated less than once a year, while 48% say they are reviewed annually

… only 29% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and 26% strongly agree that they are accurate

They go on to make some very sensible suggestions to address these issues based on what they call the ‘essential question’: “How do we hold people accountable for their performance in a way that is more accurate, helpful and inspiring?

I have a different question about performance reviews:

“How do we hold managers and supervisors accountable for reviewing their employee’s performance in a way that is more accurate, helpful and inspiring?”

Maybe I’m just old and jaded (I’ve spent more than 20 years trying to train, coach, cajole and beg managers and supervisors to manage performance in a way that means they can hold performance reviews that are ‘accurate, helpful and inspiring’ and I’ve written more articles on performance management than anyone will ever want to read) but I simply don’t understand why managers and supervisors aren’t (I’m assuming, based on the stats above) undertaking effectively one of the most crucial parts of their job; managing and reviewing performance

Now, I’ve written about this subject before in ‘Performance Management: 5 Ways to Motivate Your Managers’ and without simply replicating article that here I’ll summarise the 5 ways I outlined then but with the focus on performance reviews:

1. Help managers to understand why effective performance reviews are important to the business

Don’t all businesses and organisations want to inspire their employees; to motivate them to improve? Maybe one of the issues is that managers don’t see the performance review as an opportunity for inspiration and motivation? Maybe they’ve never had a motivational performance review themselves?

2. Help managers understand why the performance review meeting is important to their staff

I’ve never met an employee who wouldn’t appreciate an inspirational, motivational, fair and accurate performance review. Have you? I’ve met many who see it as an absolute waste of time, and rightly so.

3. Help managers to embrace their right to undertake performance reviews

So many managers I’ve worked with over the years don’t understand their right to manage their employee’s performance. To do the type of work (agreeing standards, monitoring performance, giving feedback, addressing performance issues on an ongoing basis) that make the performance review motivational, accurate and fair (you can read more on ‘management rights’ here)

4. Give managers the tools and techniques they need for effective performance reviews

Of course managers need support, coaching and training in how to hold effective performance reviews. We know this. But if your performance review system stinks (and a fair few I’ve seen do) then nobody in their right mind is going to use it

5. Ensure that giving inspirational, motivational, accurate and fair performance reviews is a top priority for your managers


a) Agree performance standards / objectives with the managers in which you describe what your expectations are (you can see an example of objectives for performance review, and how to use them, here)

b) Train, coach and support the managers in how to give effective performance reviews

c) Reward managers who evidence that they have undertaken inspirational performance reviews

d) Hold to account managers who do not

And one more idea (and a crucial one)

6. Ensure all the managers in your business receive inspirational, motivational, accurate and fair performance reviews

Enough said?

Performance Reviews Summary

I do understand the time, effort and skill needed to making performance reviews accurate, helpful and inspiring but, really, what’s the alternative?

Do you want to read more about how to give motivational performance reviews (appraisal)

Then why not take a look at my Kindle book ‘A step-by-step guide to running performance appraisal meetings that that motivate your staff to higher performance and higher job satisfaction’

This guide was easy to read, well structured and easy to follow… I particularly liked: the emphasis on motivation; the inclusion of job satisfaction ( not something I had come across as a specific appraisal topic before); the approach of drawing in the staff member to the whole process ( making them prepare and getting them to give their views first); the idea of sharing performance feedback and that the manager should be prepared to change their mind on whether objectives have been met in the light of information given by the member of staff.

You can check it out on Amazon (and try a sample) HERE

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