Separating Performance Reviews And Development Reviews May Help Improve Performance

Posted June 28, 2019 by Mary McGinley

No one likes performance reviews. Managers and HR professionals mostly don’t like doing them, and employees tend to be nervous, defensive, and on edge about receiving them. Performance reviews, however, do have an important purpose. Reviews are crucial tools to help create a successful organization and to help workers manage and improve their skillsets on the job.

In an article by Srinivas Krishnamurti, Product Leader at Culture Amp which appeared on the HR Dive website, one way to improve the overall performance review process is to keep it separate from conversations about worker development.

Managers want to see their workers succeed to see that teams and organizations succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace. During the performance review cycle, the focus on helping workers improve and learn shifts in favor of meeting a set of pre-determined milestones and compliance requirements as well as managing the expectations of the employees that they are reviewing.

Conversely, workers can experience a great deal of anxiety and defensiveness when it comes to their on-the-job performance over the previous period to justify a promotion, bonus, or potential salary increase or keeping their job. Krishnamurti believes that neither managers nor employees being reviewed are likely to be in the proper frame of mind to discuss development goals and opportunities during the annual review.

Unlike performance reviews, development discussions shouldn’t happen just once a year. Scheduling development discussions ideally should be happening once every quarter. This gives employees a chance to acquire or pick up new skill sets through direct experiences and opportunities as well as having conversations with their direct report or managers about their personal challenges or changes that need to be made. Conversations during development sessions should be structured with topics specific to each worker.

When it does come time for annual performance reviews, both workers and managers can go back over developmental conversations and goals in a way that is far less stressful and more productive.