In today’s go-go-go, “gotta have it now,” 24/7 society, the concept of making an employee wait an entire year for a performance review makes no sense … if it ever did.
In my experiences, one boss “got it,” but the others did not. In some cases, employers call in employees as pretty much just a “checklist” of something required by HR, but that’s about all it is. The annual review could be something useful, instead it’s just another job to get out of the way.
Some do not conduct annual performance reviews. Ever. With this type of boss it can often seem as though the reason is, they are happy with your work … and so, why bother with a review? Sounds great right? To some extent, yes. The problem is, you may not have much of an inkling what they think you could be doing better, and so professional development is sorely lacking. Lack of reviews can also be horrible. I was once told on a Friday night, after work, to clear out my desk over the weekend. Without a performance review of any type, there was no warning. Zip. NONE. Maybe I was a tad naïve and should have seen that the ax was coming, but this boss had a good poker face!
In other instances, bosses are what I’ll refer to kindly as “ambushers.” You might know the type, like the masked men in the Old West who rode in seemingly out of nowhere to hold up a stage coach, you don’t know how you stand with this type of employer until he or she calls you in for your review and “lets you have it.” Since this may be some of the only one-on-one contact you have with your boss, being given a litany of things you’re doing poorly on the job takes you by surprise. Shock might be a better word. “What?” you think. “Cheez, couldn’t ‘Phil’ have let me know sooner if he was so disappointed with my work?”
Which brings us to the last type, the only ones who really “get” how to conduct an annual performance review … that is, don’t make them annual! Good bosses and leaders know how to conduct constructive criticism throughout the year, and don’t wait to tell you everything in one big, single meeting in which you might not be able to remember half of the “bad things” they’re telling you that you did (or didn’t do) anyway! Like good teachers and parents, good bosses use “teachable moments” to tactfully, calmly, tell an employee about something he/she did wrong … and then, here’s the kicker: tell you what NOT to do the next time!
Brief example: I once had a pretty good temper on the job, and thought I had an awfully good reason for swearing at my computer when I lost my story on a Friday afternoon. Only this was REALLY poor timing, as the production manager was bringing a customer through the newsroom about the same time. Needless to say I didn’t set a very good example!
My editor cordially called me aside, away from everyone else, and told me the next time I should go into the bathroom, hit the wall or something, and let out my frustrations there before returning to work. But do you think I would have remembered this lesson months later? I doubt it. We still had annual performance reviews, but it was mostly to go over one’s progress, there were no big surprises. In my nearly 30 years as a journalist, this was the ONE boss I had who “got it right.” ONE.
So there you have it… since so few bosses know how to conduct an annual performance review correctly… let’s do away with them already. “Rest in Peace, Annual Performance Reviews, Rest in Peace.”