Do you think annual work reviews are a good idea?

I don’t.

I’ve gotten many and given many.
Never have I or anyone else liked them.
The personnel manuals at every company insist that people want these reviews.
No. They want a raise and no review.
Nobody thinks anyone else is enough better than them to judge them, no matter how much higher on the org chart they are.

I know from experience if you give a person a 99% rating they will obsess over that last 1% and hate you for a solid week. Even if it’s based on an incontrovertable faux pas, like “There was that time you burned down the factory because you ran out of sick days, so I’m deducting 1%.”

Annal performance evaluations.

Hate them.

I have gotten nothing but exemplary reviews from my employer, for six years running.

I DETEST being asked to comment on my co-workers for THEIR reviews. I work with three others on a regular basis (my fellow graveyard workers), and two of those are only one night a week. I see about four others for maybe 1-2 hours a day. I have NO IDEA how they are doing their jobs, as I’m not there to see it.

I consider them worthwhile.[ul][li]It allows you to see which successes of yours are valued more than others, thus giving you insight as to where you should devote your extra efforts.[]It allows you to see which failures of yours are remembered more than others. If you got lectured for forgetting the new cover sheet on the TPS reports, and they brought it up again in your review, that’s more important to them than whether you come in at 9:05 every day instead of 9:00.[]It allows you to see which successes and failures you have that you didn’t recognize on your own. An external assessment of your work, in conjunction with a personal assessment, is better than no input at all.[/ul]Now, that’s not to say that every annual review is worthwhile, or that there can’t be a bad review. A few years ago at a different employer, the annual reviews entailed a rating of 1 to 5 in a number of categories. In all of them there were some useful comments about how my manager thought I could improve. However, in the “Attendance” category, I got a 4 … with the manager’s comment of “I have no complaints here. lno is always early, willingly stays late, works evenings and weekends, hasn’t taken a sick day all year and schedules his vacations up to a year in advance!”[/li]
I questioned what more I had to do to get a 5 in that category. His response is that the upper management directed people not to give out 5s in any category, as “there’s always room for improvement.”

Bad part of a good review.

However, lawoot’s comment has some merit: 360 degree reviews, or horizontal reviews, or whatever they choose to call it where part of your coworker’s review (or even your manager’s review!) is based on your input are just awkward and ineffective. Even if you’re told that your comments on your manager’s performance are anonymous, at best it’ll have no effect and at worst it’ll come back to bite you.

What a coincidence. Just a few minutes after starting this thread I find a topical cartoon

If they were actually constructive, I’d be all for them. As it is, there’s never anything useful in them. And on ours the best we can get is “Average”, believe it or not, because administration doesn’t think you’d try anymore if you were already, you know, above average. The comments have never been helpful because they’re not critical. So as it is, they’re a waste of my time.

There has to be a better way to evaluate performance. My problem with an annual review was that nobody remembered anything you did except for the past month or so. After the annual review, we’d all decide to keep track of accomplishments and failures to prepare for the next one, but we never did. Your manager would remember that you were late one day in December but not that you worked unpaid OT the previous January.

The review format we used had categories that didn’t apply to 90% of the staff. Growing the business, safety, managing other employees, teamwork, cost savings, innovation – all worthy goals but not applicable to, for example, the receptionist or the mail clerk, who would invariably be denied a merit increase because all they did was – their jobs. :rolleyes:

Our review process was set up to reward managers and engineers. Everyone else could go hang.

They’re an important tool IF the person conducting the review is honest, open, and is trusted by the person being reviewed.

When I was a suit, my guys and secretary got annuals. The form which was sent back to home office went by the side and we talked about: where do you want to be this time next year, what’s wrong with the company, what’s good but could be better, what’s your role in that improvement, how can I be better? (asking employees to evaluate me).

IMHO, bosses who don’t act bossly get better feedback from the troops. :smiley:

They are useless. You can’t give too good of a review, because then they’d get more money. Most of them will fall into the “meets expectations” with maybe one or two “exceeds expectations.”

Reviews for some lower level staff are unnecessary. “Mary does a good job of running the copier” “David sweeps the floor and scrubs the toilet perfectly!”

If I’m asked to contribute to the review of a superior or coworker, they get glowing praise from me. Doesn’t matter if they are the least effective person in the office. I don’t follow the office politics enough to know who’s sleeping with whom and I’m damn well not going to risk my job for a useless review.

Five years ago, at company X: “As you know, our industry’s really tough right now. A lot of people are lucky to even have jobs…”

Needless to say, I didn’t get a raise. Not even a cost-of-living raise.

Four years ago, still at company X ('cause, yeah, the job market was still pretty tight): “Well, you don’t seem to look for more to do when you finish what you’re working on. You need to find more to do.”

Again, no raise. Ironically, within a year the company shut down, because… management hadn’t managed to find us another project to work on after we finished the one we were on. :rolleyes:

This year, at company Y: We have to our own self-evaluations, which management then approves. My boss told me that not only did I get the max raise, I also got a promotion… just in time for Christmas. I like company Y MUCH better.

I tend to prefer to give feedback on a regular basis. I often take people aside to tell them the great things that they are doing. Using the principles from Whale Done, I rarely give negative feedback unless a situation is so extreme it must be dealt with.

As a California teacher, I get reviewed every other year. These are useful the first few years, as you are learning your craft and can be guided into successful activities and habits.

I’ve been at this school 20 years…

On the up-side, the administration generally leaves the veterans alone and just goes through the motions unless there have been parental complaints. Some of the most creative writing goes into those evaluations. :smiley:

Last company I worked for had a policy that the distribution of rankings HAD to fit a bell-shaped curve. This probably sounded reasonable to some pinheaded HR person, looking at rankings across, say, hundreds of people. But in a 6-person team, can’t all of them be excellent? Nope. In a 6 person group, at most one of them can get a 5, one should get a 1 or 2, and the other four must have mostly 3s, possibly a couple can get a 4.

A formal review can be useful in a number of ways to both the employee and the company. If you’ve always gotten good reviews, it’s hard for the company to fire you on grounds of incompetence. OTOH, if you are the supervisor, and you can show a number of negative reviews and specific suggestions for improvement, it will be easier to dismiss someone with less worry about a lawsuit.

In the best case, it’s an opportunity for the employee to point out to the manager (before the review is finalized and sent upward) the wonderful stuff accomplished. In another company I worked for, one manager gave me his final review and said something therein that was factually untrue, and I was able to prove it. Too bad, of course, that the erroneous evaluation had already been submitted. I could (and did) add my correction in my own comments, but this was not very satisfactory to me. (I left that company later that year.)

In my last employment, the “rules” changed from year to year. Like the bell-curve rule mentioned above; it was interpreted differently from year to year and from manager to manager. One year we were specifically told by HR reps that the evaluation rating had little or nothing to do with raises – maybe a 10% factor. Another year, another manager, different story.

If everyone did this, annual reviews would not be necessary. If feedback is properly given, the annual review should not be a surprise. How much of a surprise it is usually is directly related to the lack of feedback from the boss, and is more of an indication of a poor supervisor than a poor employee.

I disagree about negative feedback. The most useful feedback I’ve ever gotten was negative, but not from extreme situations. After giving a talk at a workshop, my advisor told me that I should really listen to the papers that went before and include relevant mentions of them in my talk. He was absolutely right, and I’ve done it ever since. I’m all for the praise bit, but it is really good to give feedback immediately about how someone (especially someone new) can do a better job next time.

<Mount soapbox>
When I was at Bell Labs, I was a performance review hacker, spending years on the committee at our site. We actually measurably improved people’s feeling about being reviewed. Now, I spoke to a Harvard Business School prof about this, and he said, from years of experience, that no company is ever satisfied with their process.

There are lots of ways to do it badly, and we’ve seen some good examples in this thread.

We theoretically decoupled salary review from performance review, giving the rating and the raise at different times. But you can’t really decouple them, unless you want to give bad performers raises.

Here is what worked best for us, from a boss who was really good at this.

First, we did what we called a natural ranking. This meant an undefined number of buckets with an undefined number of people in each. My boss had a philosophy of if there was more than a few minutes of argument about who was better, they went in the same bucket. We also agreed on the distance between buckets. We used this to respond to the dumb forced distributions mentioned already, and to drive salary distribution (which had a lot of other constraints.)

In our surveys and focus groups, we found that the number one complaint was managers going into performance review not know what someone did, or with a mistaken impression. To resolve this, we had each employee fill out what we called a Form 1, in which they listed their accomplishments and performance to goal. Then we required that each manager either accept this or say where they disagreed, and required a meeting to discuss it, with the form signed by the manager and employee. They may not agree, but at least the areas of disagreements were clear. In our department all managers got a thick book of all form 1s, unedited, and a manager’s summary, listing what they manager thought was most significant, and any disagreements. We were expected to read this before the review - it got over 200 pages often.

Forcing the form 1 review really helped, measurably.

Some managers hate to give bad news, some love it. If everyone gave immediate feedback, reviews would not be necessary. Since this seldom happens, I think they are a very good idea - if done right.

I work for the State, so pay is not really tied into reviews.

Where I work one pointed out the fact that the employee needed to work on his capitalization & punctuation on emails. He’s a computer programmer and I’ve never noticed any typos or such on any of his messages. No mention of the actual work and accomplishment she did.

Another needed to work on her English, it was there on her review and she got a “needs improvement” or something like that–she just moved here from China a few years ago. He even took her emails and gave them to his wife (she’s a teacher) so she could check them over in red pen with all her mistakes. She’s from CHINA for crissakes, she’s working on it! She just quit for a job at another place.

Another mentioned a project had to be pushed back because he wasn’t putting in the necessary hours to get it done, that he was doing something else instead. Nowhere was it mentioned that the ‘something else’ was working with the Dept of Justice State auditor who was auditing the program, at the request of a State Senator-rather high profile in the least. In addition, he took over about 3 other systems for someone who quit in mid-year, and that wasn’t taken into account when the original deadline was chosen in February. The guy quit because he couldn’t stand the boss and how he was treated. That deadline was chosen solely because someone’s contract was up on that day. This was a new system, new languages, new servers, all new. The auditor said she had never gotten as much cooperation as she had from us, and the department he was working with gave him a commendation–the same day he got his bad review from his boss.

I wouldn’t mind if they are constructive, but the last 2 years they’ve been everything but that, and has caused much ill will. Not surprisingly, we’ve had new mgmt in the last 2 years. I dread the next ones.

I prefer this as well. I also will check with my boss occasionally to ensure I’m doing my job well, but she usually tells me, so I don’t have to ask that frequently.

I think the annual reviews might be helpful if you have a boss that isn’t very communicative; however, there’s a danger in that, too: if you have a boss that’s not communicative and he or she thinks you’re doing a crappy job, you won’t know until you have a bad annual review.

In my experience, most employees are aware when they’re doing a bad job, but fewer are aware when they’re doing a fantastic job.

I think performance reviews could have some good use if administered correctly and by qualified people. That’s never happened in my experience though.

For example, I worked at one place where I got great reviews from my boss. According to her, I knew my stuff cold, and was an asset to the company, that sort of thing. She had done my job at one point, and was (IMHO) well-qualified to judge what I did.

Then she left, and I got a new boss. I have no idea how this person got the position, but the new boss had never done my job and had no idea what it entailed.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, my next review was a disaster. Apparently, I had no idea how to do my job, and was unskilled and unsuitable for my position.

Huh? Nothing had changed except my boss.

If it was possible for reviews to be consistent from year to year regardless of the person giving them (let’s face it, it wasn’t as if I had suddenly forgotten how to do my job), and the person giving it is qualified to review the people being reviewed, then maybe annual reviews would be useful.

But it is really difficult to take a review seriously when (a) you’ve never had a bad one before and nothing has happened to warrant a bad one now; and (b) the person doing the reviewing has no idea what you do or how you do it. This situation has happened a few times in my career, and as a result, I now take annual reviews with a grain of salt. In the review meeting, I simply say, “Yes, Mr. or Ms. Boss,” when necessary; sign where indicated, and promptly forget the whole thing when I leave the room.

(Actually, I should say that I’ve gone back to school for another degree, so I won’t have to put up with this again for a few years. But this is what I did for a number of years at review time.)

I’ve received good reviews in my short career, but last year’s bugged me a bit.

Company’s ratings:
Top performer
Above Average
Below Average
Needs Improvement
I was working in my department for 6 months, then moved to another close department (same director, different manager) to take a promotion, higher grade level job. I was told during my review that any analyst switching jobs for a promotion with any sorts of competence basically gets an “above-average” review, simply becuase they are taking on new responsibilities while training thier replacement. Well, I did both jobs for 4 months while waiting for a replacement, then trained that person, and was told that I recieved great feedback from my new stakeholders (as in: smooth transition, as if he wasn’t new to the position at all, etc.). So why did I only get an “above average” rating instead of a “top performer” rating? If just doing the new job suddenly with some compentance earns an automatic “above average” rating, how does doing 2 jobs, training, and doing the new job with better than just compentance still only get me an “above average” rather than “top performer”?

Still pisses me off.

So this is why annual reviews are often BS. Did this review tell me what to work on, what I did well, what I needed to do better? No, it told me that I was doing a fantastic job, but we’re just not allowed to actually tell you that officially.

I work the graveyard 5 nights a week; another guy works the other 2, so we never meet except in passing. I put on his review, “I’ve never seen him do a lick of work around here,” and he put something similar on mine.

Boss has a great sense of humor, though, and loved it.