By Jeffrey Sugerman, president and CEO, and Mark Scullard, director of research, Inscape Publishing
Pretty soon we’ll all be asked to complete our annual rite of passage. It’s the thing we dread most; we quake in our cubicles, we talk about in hushed tones around the coffee maker, yet we dare not speak its name: The Annual Performance Review. Everyone hates performance reviews, right? Wrong.
We asked 6,489 recent training participants about performance reviews. In this group, 94 percent said their feedback was positive; 87 percent said the review accurately described their performance and behavior; 84 percent of respondents said that their review was useful. Overall, 90 percent said they were glad the review was included as part of their job.
Bad Review Blues
In our survey, only 6 percent of our respondents didn’t interpret their review as positive. How do they feel about performance reviews? In general, they were less inclined to think the review process was fair. This feeling of injustice could be due to the 63 percent who said they were hearing information for the first time. Also not surprising was that only 24 percent would characterize their review as accurate. But what is surprising is that 71 percent of those people who received a bad review were still glad the review process was included as part of their job. And 43 percent said that overall the review was useful. However, only 31 percent said the review process has helped to improve their performance, so clearly there’s work to be done.
Avoiding Poorly Executed Reviews
Overall, only 13 percent of all respondents felt their review was poorly executed. This percentage was much higher if they received a bad review, but most people, 74 percent, who said the review was poorly executed actually received mostly positive feedback.
We’ve come up with four essentials for delivering a well-executed review and ensuring a positive review experience—even when giving not-so-positive feedback.
Finally, a thought for managers who dutifully complete performance reviews while desperately wishing they could be anywhere else on the planet doing any of 1 million thankless tasks: The performance review process actually makes an important difference in the job satisfaction and professional development of the people who work for you. Employees have a right and a strong desire to know where they stand. We all want to know what constitutes performance and results in our organization, and a successful review process moves everyone forward.
Mark Scullard is the director of research at Inscape Publishing, a provider of training materials for the corporate market. He has more than a decade of research and data analysis experience in the development of psychological evaluation tools and methods. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, with a supporting program in statistics.
Jeffrey Sugerman is the president and CEO of Inscape Publishing. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management, marketing, and business development in the technology, training, and publishing industries. Sugerman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University.
Scullard and Sugerman are the co-authors of the forthcoming Berrett-Koehler title, “The 8 Dimensions of Leadership: DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader.”