Mixed Reviews for Employee Performance Reviews

How useful are performance reviews? It depends on who you ask.

In a recent survey conducted by Accountemps, 94 percent of CFOs interviewed said formal evaluations are either "somewhat effective" or "very effective" in helping employees improve their performance. However, of the workers surveyed, 31 percent disagreed, saying appraisals are "somewhat ineffective" or "very ineffective."
 
CFOs were asked, "In your opinion, how effective are annual or semiannual performance reviews in helping employees improve their performance?" Their responses:
  • 26 percent said very effective
  • 68 percent said somewhat effective
  • 4 percent said somewhat ineffective                      
  • 1 percent said very ineffective  
  • 1 percent said they don't know 
 
Workers were asked, "In your opinion, how effective are annual or semiannual performance reviews in helping you improve your performance?" Their responses:
  • 25 percent said very effective
  • 37 percent said somewhat effective
  • 16 percent said somewhat ineffective
  • 15 percent said very ineffective
  • 6 percent said they don't receive performance reviews
  • 1 percent said they don't know                  
 
"The success or failure of an appraisal depends on how clearly both performance expectations and feedback are communicated to employees," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit for Dummies, second edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "Managers and their staff should be in agreement at the outset on what criteria will be used to evaluate effectiveness in a given role." 
 
Messmer says that performance reviews shouldn't be delivered just once a year because, "Nothing discussed in a formal evaluation should come as a surprise to the employee. The best managers regularly give their team performance feedback throughout the year."
 
Accountemps offers the following dos and don'ts to help managers conduct effective performance reviews:
 
Don't
  • Criticize the person in general.
  • Sugarcoat the issues and avoid discussing real problems.
  • Wing it.
  • Dominate the conversation.
  • Ask employees to come empty-handed.
  • Focus only on the negative.
  • Go it alone. 
 
Do:
  • Provide constructive feedback on specific performance issues so employees know exactly what they need to improve.
  • Be up front about areas for improvement.
  • Prepare.
  • Engage employees. Remember that it's a two-way conversation.
  • Ask your team members to conduct a self-assessment of their progress toward goals set during the prior review cycle. 
  • Tell staff what they're doing well to recognize accomplishments and reinforce positive performance.
  • Ask for feedback from other colleagues for a more well-rounded review.
 
The surveys of CFOs and workers were developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey of CFOs is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. The survey of workers includes responses from 422 working adults 18 years of age or older employed in office environments. 
 
Related articles:
 
About Accountemps:
Accountemps provides staffing services for temporary accounting, financial, and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 350 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com. Follow Accountemps for workplace news at twitter.com/accountemps.
 

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