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Lead Your Team Managing

Mixed Reviews: Are Performance Evaluations Really Valuable?

Mixed Reviews: Are Performance Evaluations Really Valuable?
Credit: Jirsaw/Shutterstock

When it comes to the value of performance reviews, most employers and employees don't see eye to eye, new research finds.

One-quarter of employees say the performance reviews they receive from their bosses fail to make them better workers, with another 38 percent saying the evaluations are only somewhat effective at improving their performance, found a study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam.

Those in charge, however, have a much different opinion. The research found that just 11 percent of human resources managers say their company's performance reviews aren't valuable for their employees, with 89 percent saying the reviews are an effective tool for improving performance.

Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, said in order for a performance review to provide some value, both bosses and employees need to be prepared for the evaluations.

"All performance appraisals are not created equal," Hosking said in a statement. "Love them or hate them, performance discussions can be an effective tool, as long as both managers and workers properly prepare."

Most workers receive performance reviews only once a year. The study shows that 52 percent of organizations conduct annual reviews, with another 15 percent giving the evaluations twice a year. Just 5 percent of the organizations surveyed never conduct reviews with their employees. [Time to Review Performance Reviews? ]

"Companies need to determine the format and frequency of these assessments that work best for their employees," Hosking said. "Aside from formal reviews, regularly checking in with staff and providing feedback throughout the year can keep everyone on the same page."

To help bosses conduct more-valuable performance reviews, OfficeTeam offers several tips:

  • Plan ahead. It's important to properly prepare for each employee's review. Take some time beforehand to think about what each worker accomplished over the past review period and whether or not that employee met your expectations. In addition, remember to check in with your company's human resources department to make sure you have the proper forms and guidelines for the meeting.
  • Gather feedback from others. Besides providing your own opinion, it is also a good idea to ask others around the office who regularly work with the employee for their thoughts on how the individual performed. This helps provide a full picture of the employee's performance and could uncover some new insights.
  • Make sure your employees are just as prepared. When a performance review is upcoming, let your employees know what they can expect from the process and how they can prepare for it. Since reviews should be a two-way conversation, ask your workers to come to the meeting with a list of accomplishments, obstacles and goals for the coming year.
  • Be constructive, but balanced. When actually conducting the review, it is important to provide constructive feedback. This includes offering suggestions for improvement. Additionally, it is just as critical to make sure your employees know that you are aware of all of the good things they accomplished over the past year. Be sure to spend some of the discussion highlighting their recent successes.
  • Look toward the future. Although a review is a time to see what went right and wrong over the past year, it is also a time to look ahead. Be sure to use the discussion to set objectives for the coming review period and see if there are any additional resources or support the worker needs in order to complete those goals. Also, set some dates for regular checkpoints in order to assess the employee's progress throughout the year.

The study was based on surveys of more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 300 U.S. workers who were 18 years or older and were employed in office environments.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.