HR Administration

Are There Disadvantages to Not Doing Performance Evaluations?

By Staff Report

Sep. 2, 2015

Dear Fence Sitter: 

I applaud you for recognizing that there is value in conducting performance evaluations when many organizations want to do away with them. While I too get bogged down in the minutiae of the process, I would like to believe that if we changed the performance evaluation practice as opposed to forgoing it, we will likely end up with a more positive outcome. And the research is trending the same way. 

And here is why. 

The performance evaluation is typically held one time a year on a common review date for all employees or on the employee’s service anniversary date — whichever system works best for the organization. The process itself is overwhelming: the build-up, the anxiety, the potential feelings of unfairness, the overwhelming amount of time involved, scheduling the meetings, ensuring as managers we have captured enough information, developing goals, keeping our employees motivated — the list goes on. As a result, performance evaluations have gained a bad rap from employees as well as managers. 

Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte and contributor to Forbes magazine, articulates several “needs” of performance evaluations. And each of these is seemingly important. 

  • We need a fair and validated way to distribute compensation increases.
  • We need a record of low performance when we let someone go.
  • We need a way to make sure managers are doing their jobs well.
  • We need to capture performance data in an employee’s profile for future promotion and other talent reviews, development plans, and career tracking.

But what if we had something different than the traditional performance evaluation? What if it was the “Un-Performance Evaluation”? Kind of like the Uncola. The Un-Performance Evaluation is ensuring effective communication, coaching and documentation throughout the entire year.  The bottom line is that employees want — and need — feedback. And they want it often!

What if instead of once a year, managers met with their employees weekly or monthly, and it was a conversation between two people that went like this: “What’s going well for you?” “What’s not going well?” and “How can I be of help to you?” The employee and the manager both get to respond to these same questions. As the year progresses, positive trends from these questions, as well as potential concerns can be addressed. 

Additionally, as matrix organizations are becoming more prevalent, with multiple reporting lines, this enables more than simply the direct supervisor to provide feedback. These leaders also get to participate in this Un-Performance Evaluation to provide feedback throughout the year.  

Let’s not overlook development and skill building that also occurs in these one-on-ones. These conversations might not happen weekly or monthly, but they definitely happen more than once a year and help us as leaders position our people and get them ready for the next growth opportunity. This demonstrates to our employees that we value them. And what employee doesn’t want to feel valued and appreciated? 

The bottom line, Fence Sitter: Go ahead and get out of the box with respect to traditional performance evaluations. Create a different practice where your leaders are actively and regularly meeting with their employees to provide information, share feedback, and identify and track their career path. Some leaders might say, how do I make time for this? My response would be, how do you not? 

SOURCE: Margaret Walker Scavo, Principal at FutureSense Inc., a management consulting firm, Costa Mesa, California.

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