HR Strategy

How to Solve the Biggest Problems Surrounding Performance Reviews

By

Jenny Stepp

| May 16, 2016

In a study of company processes influencing employee motivation, performance reviews received a total motivation score of 41 points, based on a scale from -100 to 100. Yet, for varied reasons, appraisals often fail to produce results – conducting reviews late, not setting clear objectives, using an inefficient HR and payroll solution, and inadequate management training being among the most common. Here’s how to address the common problems with performance reviews.

Late Reviews

Even the most well-intentioned manager can become so busy that he or she fails to complete performance reviews on time. But, late reviews may cause employees to feel as though their contributions aren’t valued, which can demotivate them and hinder their performance. When managers have the resources to complete evaluations on time – such as an HR and payroll solution that reduces review preparation time – it’s easier for them to follow through and conduct timely reviews.

Unclear Goals

Employees need clear, specific, comprehensible, attainable and measureable goals that are challenging and relevant to the organization’s objectives. Telling an employee to “increase production” doesn’t precisely convey your expectations. A better strategy would be to say that she needs to increase production by five units per hour by Jan. 1. This clearly articulates what’s expected of her and gives you a quantifiable basis for rating her performance.

Personal Biases

It’s not uncommon for employees to complain about the unfairness of performance reviews. For instance, an employee might assume low performance ratings are a result of a personal issue the manager has with him or her. While this is a subjective viewpoint, personal biases do exist and must be avoided during the review process.

To reduce the risk of unfair appraisals, employers can use an HR and payroll solution that allows objective, verifiable measurements, such as:

  • quality, i.e. accuracy and usefulness of the work performed
  • quantity, i.e. level of productivity
  • timeliness, i.e. whether the work is completed by a certain date
  • cost-effectiveness, i.e. how efficiently the work was produced

During performance reviews, employees may ask questions that numbers alone cannot answer. They might, for example, seek their manager’s opinion on whether they have a bright future with the company. Even then, managers should strive for objectivity by providing concrete examples to support their assessments.

Mishandling of Poor Performers

Discussing employees’ deficiencies during performance reviews is a sensitive matter that managers must handle with tact and honesty. Withholding the truth about an employee’s subpar performance only stifles growth, while revealing the truth in a harsh manner fractures self-esteem. Try to strike a balance between being helpful yet firm. For example, give the employee a thorough action plan, schedule regular follow-up meetings and explain the consequences of repeated poor performance. Additionally, inadequacies should not first be discussed in the performance review. Instead managers should address issues as soon as they arrive in one-on-one sessions.

Not all employees respond favorably to bad news. A poor performer might cry, shout, walk away or seethe silently during the review. With appropriate training, managers can learn to gauge employee reactions and respond accordingly.

Lack of Employee-Job Alignment

Employees need responsibilities that match their capabilities. Otherwise, they will not achieve their potential or perform at the required level. To assist in employee job alignment, during performance reviews you might ask employees how they feel about their roles and capabilities. Based on their responses, you can discover their untapped potential or determine whether further training or job reassignment is needed.

Failure to Keep up with Technology

By embracing newer technology that enables accuracy and efficiency, employers can implement best-practice solutions for performance reviews. For example, a single-application HR and payroll solution lets you:

  • perform timely reviews by reminding you of upcoming appraisals.
  • set clear goals based on family, department, position or employee.
  • conduct objective reviews according to required competencies.
  • establish development goals to improve poor performance.
  • create and delegate positions that coincide with employees’ abilities.

Conducting performance reviews on time shows your commitment to your employees’ success. Keeping reviews focused on what can be proven reduces arbitrary ratings. When dealing with poor performer, merging empathy with truth reveals your desire to see them grow. Discovering employees’ abilities helps you delegate responsibilities to those most capable.

These strategies can boost employee motivation, but managers cannot accomplish them alone. They need proper support – such as an HR and payroll solution that simplifies yet strengthens the appraisal process.

About the Author

Jenny Stepp

As a former Paycom HR director and a Human Resource Professional with over 20 years of experience, Jenny has extensive experience in management, mentoring, policy development and recruiting. Jenny's team player mentality and leadership abilities make her an elite HR Director who is always on top of the latest HR trends.

See more posts by Jenny Stepp