Performance Reviews: Your Annual Dose of Judgement

Performance Reviews: Your Annual Dose of Judgement

Samantha Badr


Happy New Year, everyone! We’ve made it through another year and that’s definitely an accomplishment. Say goodbye to your 2021 PTO – it’s time for a “fresh start”. What better way to kick off the year than by sitting down with your boss and discussing all the things you’ve done right, and maybeeee some of the things you’ve done wrong? But that’s subjective right? Because perfect people don’t make mistakes.

I would’ve LOVED to have a full meeting dedicated to ~ME~ to start this year, but my organization only conducts annual performance reviews for employees with a tenure of 12 months or longer. However, I had the pleasure of creating the form and automating this process for the first time since the company’s inception. That basically makes me the CEO, right?

The organization I work for was used to the traditional method – a paper form and a yearly meeting with your supervisor. Since working from home became the reality, the company shifted to a PDF form over the last two years. Employees answered a series of questions on performance and graded themselves on a scale of 1-5. Supervisors then met with employees and went over the form and goals for the following year.

Luckily for me, the organization decided to finally automate this process by using our HRIS review platform. For the last month or so, performance reviews have become my child. I somehow figured out how to create the self-appraisal form from start to finish. That included the grading scale, the questions, the formatting, the instructions, and every detail in between.

If the organization is already paying for the HRIS system, why not utilize its every function? Working from home has eliminated the possibility of having access to hundreds of paper files. This new format could save hours of filing and lessen the possibility of errors. The HRIS system also allows the company administrator to have access to all employee reviews in one place, as well as run reports with the collected data afterwards.

Shortly after rollout, I received an email from an employee regarding the grading system on performance reviews. One of the questions on the self-appraisal form was about supervisory support. Since the questions were graded, it could technically alter an employee’s overall score if they rated their supervisor with a low score. After that email, it got me thinking about performance reviews in general. Are they even useful? Can they motivate employees, or does it discourage them altogether?

This employee was right. It’s not fair to receive a lower overall score if an employee does not feel supported by their supervisor. Although my intent was to use the scores as data to track employee satisfaction organization wide, I forgot to think about what the employee sees from their end. To an employee, this score holds a lot of value because it determines their yearly bonus. From an HR standpoint, the score is just a number. It’s easy to forget that attached to each score is an employee – a person.

I don’t think it’s super motivating to receive a grade at the end of the year that determines if you did a “good job” or not. I also don’t think it’s motivating to attach that grade to a dollar amount. People should not be graded, and I think maybe the system is outdated. A lot of companies are shifting from the generic performance review method, and I can see why. Maybe it worked back then, but maybe it’s time for something new. Maybe 2022 is the perfect time to start.

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