13 Mistakes in Annual Performance Review

There is no surprise in the fact that employees dread the annual performance reviews.


Simply because managers are poor at it, as a result, they end up doing more damage than good.

Though organizations have adapted the online systems to manage the process, and it adds accountability and quality control; however, managers still lack the skills to be effective.

Also, online systems take a lot of time and are cumbersome.

At performance reviews, a tremendous amount is at stake – employees’ career progressions and self-confidence are challenged. It sets the tone for employees’ experience and performance. Obviously, success as a leader is also influenced.

These performance reviews are not eagerly anticipated – neither by employees nor by their managers.

Almost all of the employees have had at least one nerve-racking experience at these performance reviews, whereas, for managers, it’s a lot of work to prepare. 

However, performance reviews are crucial to employee growth because tackling and understanding our mistakes is what breeds momentum.

Most performance review systems in organizations are poorly designed and are conducted to do more harm than good.

At times, employees might even feel that performance reviews are well-intentioned but badly executed – as if employees were the ones being executed for not doing enough!

What are performance reviews?

Also known as performance appraisals or performance evaluations, performance reviews are formal assessments in which managers evaluate employees’ work performance, offer feedback, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for future performance.

These are the tools for managers to improve employee retention and increases employee productivity within an organization.

When done right, performance appraisals help the employees understand what they are doing well, how their work aligns with the organizational goals, how they can improve, and what is expected of them.

Why are performance appraisals important?

Performance reviews are an excellent tool to review the performance of employees and managers.

Managers who use performance appraisals effectively can easily identify high-performing employees, encourage growth and development, foster employee engagement, and communicate expectations.

They are a good way to monitor a company’s performance overall and where there is a scope for improvements.

Performance appraisals are a successful tool only when they are consistent and implemented.


13 Mistakes that Managers make in Performance Reviews

Most of the organizations provide performance reviews on a regular schedule – monthly, quarterly, or even annually.

To everyone’s dismay, managers and HR professionals don’t often have specific training on making performance reviews more useful and effective; thus, reviews don’t mean anything or don’t have any impact.

Some of the common mistakes that managers make during the performance reviews are –

  • Vague Feedback

Performance reviews can be a very daunting task for managers. When it comes to performance reviews, it seems to be the added work.

Whether it is a lack of preparation time or fear of offending staff members, managers use vague language in the performance reviews.

Some reviews contain only terms, like ‘satisfactory,’ ‘need improvement,’ and ‘below expectations.’

The feedback should provide insight on how they can improve their own performance or enhance their career goals.

The performance reviews are meant to be helpful to employees and provide feedback on the work that they have been doing.

  • Not being truthful

Employees often complain about their managers, who never say anything good about them.

What happens is that most people can handle the truth; they can’t manage the inaccurate perceptions of others.

And the employees who cannot handle the truth must’ve heard about it years ago but probably had lazy managers.

If the feedbacks are truthful, most employees can take negative feedback from their managers; they can take it because it is in service of the company’s goals.

However, if the managers are off-base in their perceptions, it can get very frustrating for the employees.

  • No Follow-Ups

Performance appraisals are designed to help employees identify key areas they are good at and list areas that require improvement.

Performance reviews should not end when the conversation is over.

To ensure that goals are followed through, managers must follow up with their employees regularly.

When managers give annual appraisals without a timely follow-up, the review is forgotten soon and loses its momentum to help employees get better and improve.

Managers must make sure to check in with their employees regularly post a performance review to let them know if they have noticed any changes, where they need to improve, and if managers can help them.

Reviews should be held more than once a year to make sure that employees are acting upon the goals.

Following through with an employee will benefit the company overall.

  • Focusing on one topic

When conducting a review, it becomes easy for people to talk about what they are most familiar with, and most of the time, that ends up being the most recent events.

Although making sure that nothing should be overlooked, it is important not to focus on one topic.

Managers should make sure that the performance review is well-rounded and includes all the employees’ issues throughout the year.

A good way to ensure that managers track employees’ performance and mistakes is to have performance reviews more than once a year.

Also, managers must make sure that they take notes in all of their reviews so that they can come back to these topics as and when required.

  • Giving top of the mind feedback

When managers are not prepared for their reviews, they hold reviews begrudgingly without giving it a lot of thought.

If managers do not give their honest feedback, they cannot expect employees to put any effort into improving their performance.

Because managers set a precedent for employees to improve, they should schedule frequent check-ins, and monthly reviews will do a lot of good to the employees.

To be real, one year is way too long to wait and give the employees a review.

Managers must offer frequent reviews because they are easier to prepare for and more relevant in time.

  • Recency Effect

The recency effect suggests that the last thing to our memory is the most prevalent.

Managers make the same mistake and look at what has happened recently and don’t take a look at the bigger picture.

Some managers seem to have a pretty shaky memory, so their opinions are only based on the most recent events and ideas, and that becomes the topic of discussion.

If managers aren’t taking time to document things over time or meet with employees monthly, they are most likely to remember the beginning and the end of the employees’ year.

  • Not enough recognition or positive feedback

People become what you want them to be and not what you nag them to be.

The purpose of performance reviews is to encourage employees to offer criticism, but please, don’t give out a compliment just for the sake of it.

Managers must make sure that their positive feedback is meaningful and not at all vague. They should qualify their statements.

Because human beings have the tendency to stick to negative feedback, managers must ensure that their positive feedback has just as much weight.

Performance appraisals must be used to look behind but to look forward.

Employees and managers should look at performance reviews as a forward-thinking discussion wherein both managers and employees discuss assignments and responsibilities for achieving the employees’ peak in the coming period.

  • The wrong person giving the review

There is a huge gap between the day-to-day employees and managers, making it almost impossible to give effective reviews.

Though there are some of the managers’ common practices, like watching from afar or eyes in the back of the head; however there is no way that managers can tell who contributed what and how much.

The person who will conduct a review should have the most face with employees on a weekly basis and keep a close track of employee performance.

The direct supervisor/manager should also know their employees on a friendlier level so that they can use the ‘right’ tactics to motivate employees.

  • Tying the review to salary

Many managers base employees’ salaries on performance appraisals.

Performance appraisals that are tied to employee compensation create a culture of blame-game. It reinforces hierarchy, undermines collegiality, discourages straight talk, becomes politicized, and works against cooperative problem-solving.

In such cases, performance appraisals turn into self-defeat and demoralizing sessions.

Tying the performance review to salary pushes the true essence of a review to the back burner and makes everything about money.

The primary objective of a performance appraisal is to discuss employee performance and not their salary.

If managers do the performance reviews to the salary, employees will focus on only one thing – whether they will be given a raise – and make no efforts to implement the feedback.

  • Not having a review

The worst mistake that managers make is not providing any feedback at all.

Though this may not sound true, this happens quite a lot.

Having annual performance reviews is bad enough; hence, organizations must shift towards frequent one-on-one meetings wherein managers can help their employees boost their performance.

Career conversations go a long way to keep the employees around for longer.

The primary idea should be to keep the communication flow regular, not once a year and definitely not never.

  • No feedback from the employees

Managers often spend time talking to their employees in a performance review, and they forget to consider employees’ feedback.

Managers must find out what the employees think of their performance and whether or not they acknowledge performance issues independently.

This way, managers can know if employees are ready to take ownership of their mistakes without managers even bring that up.

Or managers may find out that their employees have been contributing to the organization in a way that they had noticed before at all.

  • Lack of Employee-Generated Solutions

In addition to not asking employees to self-evaluate their own performance, managers frequently make the mistake of not inviting employees to solve problems on their own.

Managers should ask their employees how a problem could be solved, assess their solutions, and figure out whether or not their solution could be incorporated.

It would help the employees take ownership of trying to be better at the job.

Also, this way, communication will feel more like a discussion rather than managers just speaking endlessly, hoping that employees will incorporate the feedback.

Performance Reviews: Putting It All Together

The purpose of performance reviews is to assess employees’ performance and see how successful a manager is at managing employees.

An employee’s performance, at times, can reflect management, and thus, managers must take part in that review seriously.

Performance management takes a lot of work; in fact, leading takes time. Great managers put in the efforts that lead to better performance of the team.

Still Not Using ‘PagarBook’ for Employee Management?
Prashant Kumar

Prashant Kumar

Associate Growth Manager

Prashant is Associate Growth Manager in PagarBook and manages all the organic web presence for brand.


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