Don’t Make These 5 Common Performance Review Mistakes

Performance reviews are naturally stressful, for both the manager and the employee. In fact, over 40% of employees dislike these reviews and an even higher percentage of HR professionals don’t like their systems. Obviously, something is already broken with the tech and the process itself. While changing technology and frequency can help, decrease the stress of an already stressful event by not saying any of these things.


  1. “Well, it’s been an eventful year!” Performance reviews are downright painful when conducted too far apart to be effective. Issues that had managers and team members steaming mad eight months ago may not get addressed, while more benign (but recent) events may get blown out of proportion. Accenture, announced to 330,000 employees, that annual performance reviews would be disbanded. Expedia, Adobe Systems, Gap, Microsoft, Deloitte, and Medtronic have also switched from an annual performance review system.
  2.  “I don’t see any issues here, Bob.” Even a terrible performance review is better than not having your contributions noticed at all. Most employees come to work for more than a paycheck and brushing them off during the one time they get one-on-one time with management can lead to the disengagement that 51% of the American workforce feels. Take the time to study the specific contributions of each employee so you can comment on them. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and theirs.
  3. “Based on your overall deliverables….” It’s right in the title. This is about performance, not deliverables. While a performance review is a great time to bring up deliverables that are consistently overdue or missing; it’s also a great time to find out from the employee if those consistent deliverables are impeding performance. For example, a high-performing employee may find reporting tedious, bringing their overall score down. Ask managers and co-workers if these tasks are necessary.
  4. “And your entire team agrees…” There is a reason for 360-degree reviews and this is not it. Encouraging your employees to share their opinions and viewpoints around their employees or even managers is not licensed to turn a performance review into the blame game. Instead, focus on patterns of behavior that have become problematic.
  5. “Based on this data…” Data is a huge boon for the HR industry and managers alike. Issues that were formerly hidden under big personalities or that flew under the radar due to overburdened departments now bubble to the surface in an effervescent of numbers. But data isn’t infallible and doesn’t tell the entire story of an employee. Reporting errors, poor project management tracking and even shifting goals can make a successful employee look lazy and unfocused and even a really poor performing employee look like a rockstar (maybe they’ve been moved to several different teams not because they’re a great resource but because no one can stand them).

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Performance reviews may be stressful but they are, in fact, a necessary evil of managing people. Reduce stress by finding a great review system that gives employees access to their managers and allows for a continuous feedback loop and alignment of organizational goals to that of the individual employee. And make sure not to say the wrong thing.

Tweet This: People make mistakes. Don’t catch yourself in performance review mistakes and take our advice here:

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