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Performance Reviews Performance Management

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Employee Reviews

May 30, 2023
6 min read

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This article on common mistakes to avoid during employee reviews was originally published in September 2020 and updated in May 2023.

Did you know more than half of employees say their managers are not getting performance reviews right? Only 14% of employees say they’re inspired to improve their performance after an evaluation. Just 32% of HR business partners say reviews are equipping employees with what they need to improve performance.

Only 32% of HR business partners believe their company’s #performancereviews are helpful for employees. They could be making one of these 8 #employeereview mistakes:

At their best, employee reviews increase productivity and engagement and motivate your team members to give their best. But, based on the evidence, most companies’ performance management processes are missing the mark. So why do these traditional methods fall short?

It could be due to some of the common mistakes businesses make with their review process. Avoid these eight common mistakes and change the way your employees, HR team, and entire organization see performance reviews.

Employee Review Mistake #1: Conversations are one-sided.

When employees don’t feel like their voices are being heard at work, there can be many negative consequences:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Burnout Lower job satisfaction
  • Higher employee turnover

That’s why it’s important that performance review conversations are just that; dialogues between managers and employees. Managers should practice active listening to ensure that employees feel heard and understood and that both parties can benefit, share, and learn.

How to Fix It: Kick-off every performance review cycle with self-evaluations. These allow employees to take an active role in their own evaluations and add their voices to the conversation from the start. With self-appraisals, managers can open up performance discussions by exploring employees’ experiences before getting into managerial feedback and peer reviews.

Employee Review Mistake #2: No solutions or action items are given.

As we mentioned, most employees aren’t motivated by their review conversations. Bad performance reviews highlight the issues but don’t offer any solutions or guidance. You can’t expect employees to strengthen their weak spots and nurture their strengths without a plan for what comes next.

How to Fix This: Try setting SMART goals, so employees have clear next steps following their reviews. Use the SMART method for goal-setting for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. They can be tailored more closely to employees’ needs and eliminate confusion about what employees need to do to improve their overall performance and grow their skills.

Employee Review Mistake #3: Managers don’t follow up.

If managers only talk about performance with their direct reports once or twice a year, with no follow-up about what was discussed, the process can feel like a waste of time for your employees. According to performance review statistics, 92% of employees want to talk about how they’re doing far more often than they are.

How to Fix This: After reviews, have managers send out a follow-up account of the review, what was discussed, and action items. Then, set up regular one-on-one meetings where managers can continue the conversation.

Your HR team can implement performance review software to make follow-up seamless. With digital review records, goals, and collaborative one-on-one workspaces, the software keeps track of past conversations and performance and makes it accessible to managers and employees. It’s also beneficial as a historical record if employees ever have future performance issues or become eligible for promotions.

Employee Review Mistake #4: Employees don’t receive any positive feedback.

We mentioned that a majority of employees aren’t motivated by their performance reviews. So it’s important to make sure your review conversations don’t focus solely on where employees need to improve. While they should include constructive criticism, be sure to focus on their strengths and establish their value to the company.

How to Fix This: A common mistake employers make in performance reviews is beginning with negative feedback. Beginning with negative feedback immediately places the employee in defense mode, which makes it difficult for real progress and can result in a bad employee review.

Start the conversation on a positive note instead, discussing employees’ strengths and accomplishments first. Then, talk about where they can improve, and end with constructive feedback to put the focus on employees’ growth and development.

Employee Review Mistake #5: Peer reviews aren’t included.

Peer reviews are vital to collecting a well-rounded and accurate picture of each employee’s day-to-day performance. Most managers aren’t spending hours each week working closely with their review subjects. But employees work closely with many of their colleagues who aren’t involved in the review process but have a useful perspective to offer.

How to Fix This: Add 360-degree feedback or 360 reviews to your review process. This gives employees the chance to provide praise and feedback to their peers in areas managers may not see. It also helps build trust between coworkers and can be highly motivating.

Employee Review Mistake #6: Employees feel reviews are unfair.

How fair is your current review process? If employees feel reviews are unfair, their motivation suffers. It can also impact employee retention: 85% would consider quitting if they felt their review was unfair.

Did you know 85% of employees would think about quitting if their #performancereview was unfair? Don’t make these 8 mistakes with your #employeereviews:

Part of creating accurate performance appraisals is using a method that actually measures performance in an unbiased way. Employees should be rated according to the same criteria and use the same rating system to ensure fairness and eliminate bias.

How to Fix This: Opt for a competency-based performance management process. Competency-based evaluations ensure employee performance is rated according to the requirements of the role and not on managers’ opinions or ever-changing criteria.

Employee Review Mistake #7: Reviews are too infrequent.

Annual performance reviews are too infrequent — as we mentioned, almost all of your employees want to talk about their work more often. And it’s good for engagement. Employees who received meaningful feedback from a manager in the past week are four times more likely to be engaged.

How to Fix This: Track employee performance continuously and implement a real-time employee feedback process that records ongoing performance. This way, all incidents (wins and losses) are reported, and the reviewer has a log to reference when it comes time to sit down for a formal performance review.

Employee Review Mistake #8: You’re not analyzing performance data.

Employee performance data is extremely valuable. It tells you if managers are giving fair reviews, which employees are your best performers, and helps you spot trends and patterns. Performance data can also help your HR team refine performance management strategies and enable better performance — but it can be difficult to collect and analyze.

How to Fix This: With performance management software, you can easily collect and analyze your valuable data. Identify specific performance trends for your employees and help them discover their strengths and weaknesses. Provide past performance review data to show how their performance has become a habit (either a positive habit or a weak habit), then work together to generate ideas for training and development options.

You can avoid making these common mistakes and improve performance outcomes with ClearCompany. Our Performance, Engagement, & Goals platform is equipped with all the tools you need for the most effective performance review cycle yet:

  • Automatic review cycles and reminders to stay on schedule
  • Performance review templates and guides so you can get started quickly
  • Mobile access so employees can complete reviews on their phones

Make employee performance reviews matter and build a better process with ClearCompany. Sign up for a demo with our experts today.

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