Five common performance review mistakes made by employers

Heather Jennings

A good performance review should leave an employee with constructive feedback and an outline of clear steps to improve their performance.

But all too often reviews can result in staff feeling resentful, aggravated and confused about their roles.

Take a look at these common performance review mistakes employers make.

Not being prepared

One of the most prevalent mistakes managers make is not preparing enough and treating the review more like a chat.

An effective review should clearly communicate the expectations of an employee, provide helpful feedback and put in place future goals.

According to HR specialist and HCM Global group managing director Anna-Lucia Mackay, 80 per cent of an employer’s time should be spent on preparation and the other twenty per cent on the conversation itself.

“When preparing for a conversation, have a clear focus on the purpose of the review to ensure you address the core issues with your employee,” Mackay says.

Focusing on recent events

Some employers can focus too heavily on recent events as the basis for analysing an employee’s entire yearly performance, says Faye Hollands, director at career coaching company Outshine Consulting.

“This may be unfair on the employee and an inaccurate representation of their contributions,” Hollands says.

Where many performance review frameworks fall down is that bosses and employees don’t review the progress until the next review – often a year later.

Talking salary

While it may be relevant in some situations, discussing an employee’s salary alongside their performance can cause tension, says Employment Innovations HR head Shane Duffy.

“Consider keeping them separate from each other as otherwise it has the potential to add emotion and self interest into the process – taking it away from being a genuine performance discussion,” Duffy says.

Negatives over positives

Focusing on too many negatives and forgetting to include positive encouragement can be disheartening for employees.

Ensure you start and end the review on a positive note by suggesting how the employee can continue to build on their good work.

Where you have to address underperformance, be as constructive as possible by giving clear directions on how they can improve.

Irregular reviews

Katie Hamilton, director at HR firm wattsnext, suggests businesses move away from an annual review and conduct more regular conversations with staff to boost performance.

“Managers also need to follow up on goal settings,” Hamilton says. “Where many performance review frameworks fall down is that bosses and employees don’t review the progress until the next review – often a year later.”

Heather Jennings

Heather Jennings is a Sydney-based journalist who writes about technology, finance and business for publishers including ninemsn, Yahoo7 and Thomson Reuters.