Employees Find Annual Performance Reviews Lacking

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By Caryn Freeman

July 27 — Most employees feel that performance reviews unnecessarily disrupt their work, and many aren’t satisfied with the feedback they receive from the reviews, according to a survey released July 23 by Bangkok, Thailand-based consulting firm Taskworld.

The “2015 Taskworld Annual Review Survey” polled 495 employees in the U.S. and found that over half (55 percent) view in-person reviews as time that should be spent on more important work-related tasks.

The vast majority (80 percent) of respondents say it takes nearly half the workweek to prepare for in-person evaluations, and nearly half of them say evaluations do not provide constructive suggestions on how to improve job performance, the survey said.

Taskworld CEO Fred Mouawad told Bloomberg BNA in a July 25 e-mail that without actionable feedback, performance reviews can have an adverse impact on an employee's motivation and self-esteem.

“Unless [reviews] encourage a specific change in behavior or assist in building new skills, they are a waste of resources,” he said. “That’s unfortunately what our survey demonstrates. Too many people don’t get specific feedback, get it infrequently, and post-getting it still don’t know what to do differently.”

Infrequent Feedback Lacking Evidence

According to the survey, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents are only evaluated once a year, leaving them to wonder where they stand in the company. Only 5 percent are getting monthly feedback, the survey said.

The lack of evidence-based feedback is also a point of frustration with employees, Taskworld noted. Only 12 percent of respondents said they are very satisfied with the evidence their employer provides to support the comments and ratings they receive in performance evaluations; 41 percent of respondents say they are satisfied with the evidence; 28 percent say they are somewhat satisfied; and 19 percent say they are not satisfied.

Mouawad said that performance evaluations are often met with skepticism and resistance, and employees need to be convinced of the validity of the review with a “compelling argument.”

If there is no solid evidence to back up an observation, he said, it is unlikely the receiver will value the feedback. Mouawad explained that the employee might believe the evaluator is biased and making subjective observations.

“Not only [then] is the provider unsatisfied, but the relationship between the provider and the receiver becomes strained,” he said. “The provider believes the receiver is not willing to change, and the receiver believes the provider is biased. This is a classic symptom of evaluation systems as we know them.”

Give Specific Examples for Improvement

The survey found that about two-thirds (65 percent) of workers believe performance reviews would be more productive if employees were given specific examples of their strengths and weaknesses on a consistent basis.

Mouawad said reviews should point to a specific situation that is still fresh in the mind of the employee. That way, he said, if the employee is convinced of and understands the need to change, he or she can immediately start working on improvements.

“That high-velocity feedback is what enables people to drive continuous improvement that meets the expectations of their manager and other team members,” Mouawad said. “Without that frequency, change occurs slowly and often too late.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at cfreeman@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com

The press release announcing the survey is available at http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/survey-half-of-employees-find-annual-in-person-reviews-provide-little-value-2041279.htm. An infographic on the survey results is at http://blog.taskworld.com/infographic-taskworlds-performance-review-survey-2015/.