The Case for More Frequent Performance Reviews

Aubrey Daniels, the clinical psychologist who is often called “the father of performance management,” believes the performance appraisal process is flawed and in need of radical change at many organizations today. The biggest problem, he believes, is that reviews happen too infrequently.

He’s right on both counts.

To drive results-oriented performance, we need to change how we conduct reviews, which we’ve written about previously. Please click the images below to read these posts.

We also need to make frequent, one-on-one meetings with employees the backbone of performance management. But this is exactly the challenge for many of the managers we speak with—they have no idea how to squeeze recurring meetings into their already hectic schedules.

In a Forbes article titled, “The Secret To Effective One-On-One Meetings With Direct Reports,” leadership coach and author Kristi Hedges summarizes some of the key roadblocks that keep managers from actually holding more frequent performance-related discussions with their direct reports. These roadblocks include managers’ uncertainty about how to structure such meetings … how to ensure these meetings are productive … and how to avoid turning them into one-way delegation sessions. Another concern is that these meetings will uncover “simmering conflicts or complaints” that will require significant time and effort to resolve.

All are legitimate concerns. However, Hedges offers managers helpful insights on how to implement and make the most of more frequent one-on-one meetings. Her tips include: create an actual schedule and a structure for these meetings; discuss the employee’s needs and issues as well as your own; and be sure to manage accountabilities.

One of the key aspects of frequent performance-oriented meetings is that they should not be heavy-duty critique sessions. Good people don’t need to be micromanaged. (A recent Business Insider article highlights the dangers of micromanagement, for those interested.) These get-togethers should be more about discussing employees’ needs and concerns—for instance, the things that may be getting in the way of carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities

Employees want and need our assistance to achieve their full potential, and this is precisely where more frequent performance-oriented discussions can help.

Of course, this doesn’t mean your people don’t want to speak with you or hear your feedback on a regular basis. In fact, they do. Research has long shown that employees want clear communication from their managers regarding what’s expected of them (responsibilities), what they’re doing right (recognition), what they’re doing wrong (constructive criticism), and what they need to do to advance their careers (development and career guidance).

When you think about it, the “I don’t have time” argument against more frequent performance meetings doesn’t really hold water. The truth is we can’t afford to not make the time.


To read more about the power and potential of sound performance management, click here to download our whitepaper, “Bridge the Gap Between Your Performance Reviews and Employee Development—or Both Are Primed To Fail.