Employee Performance Reviews: Dare To Be Different

Jun 20, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

It is in our nature as mere humans to justify ourselves.  I needed that Ipad for my business.  I know we need to meet each week, it’s just that I am underwater in day to day tasks.  As small business owners, we try to make ourselves feel bigger by putting down the big corporations, and emitting the battle cry that “we are indeed different”.

I certainly hope so.  I pray this is the truth, not just reducing our own cognitive dissonance.  Why?  Because I am so disheartened by what I heard today regarding a big company, that it makes me want to be sure to be different.

How Not To Communicate to Employees

Here is the situation.

A big company had a pretty rough year financially last year.  I know….lot’s of companies are struggling.  They didn’t meet many goals and objectives.  This company had a difficult year and spoke all year about performance being off.  They had an annual sales meeting and recommitted their team to new heights in the coming fiscal year.  We can do better…..we have a great team….you all can do it!

Then two weeks after this rah rah speech, and about 4 weeks into the new fiscal year, the managers are just getting their quotas and compensation plans for the new year.  The corporate administration was late in delivering the information.  And by the way, everyone’s targeted compensation is planned to go down from last year a nice little chunk.  What this means is that if you hit plan this year, you will make less money than you made if you hit plan last year.

This is not really my issue though.  Companies are struggling and have to make difficult decisions.  I figure a lower targeted compensation is better than lay-offs.  No, the issue I have has to do with what they tasked their managers to do for performance evaluations.  They told the managers that reviews need to be in within two weeks. “Oh, and by the way, we don’t want you to take the time to sit down with all of your sales team and discuss their reviews with them in person.  That will take you too much time.  Just call them on the phone and tell them what they got.  And don’t forget to inform them that their targeted compensation will be lower next year across the board.”

Research has shown that compensation is not the sole measurement of employee satisfaction.  I believe that their are still many people out there that want to do a good job.  Hopefully, to glorify God.  But, even if it is because they are committed to their company or their boss, doing a good job is beneficial for everyone.  But  remember, we are human.  We want and need to be appreciated.  Whether we say it out loud or not.

And even if we aren’t doing a good job, we hope someone cares enough to show us where we aren’t performing and to provide insight and direction on improvement.

To just finish a tough year and have your boss give you a cursory 20 minute call to tell you that you underperformed, or even met expectations, and then move on to what is next, is disheartening.  For some, even scary.  Many spend 8-10 hours a day at work.  This is almost one third of their life.  And for that they get 20 minutes per year in performance feedback.

As a corporate employee, we may not have a choice.  We have to work within the structure outlined.

Provide Employee Performance Feedback: You Have A Choice

You are a small business owner though.  You have a choice.

Do your employees feel like you truly know what they do each day?  Do you take the time to informally discuss their performance and provide encouragement and feedback regularly?  Do you at least once a year give them a formal review?  Not necessarily a job audit…more of a mutual discussion of goals and achievement.  This is an opportunity to sow into your employees.  Help them to create personal development plans.  Provide objective insight into their strengths and weaknesses.  Learn about their career goals.

It is good business to do this.  It is respectful.  And mostly, Jesus commands us to do this.  He says we are to treat others as we would want to be treated.  Isn’t that how you would want to be treated?

If you are an employer, or an employee, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Do you care if someone is invested in your professional performance and development?  Do you want feedback?  Do you want someone to take the time to share with you their thoughts on your performance and work with you on continuous improvement?

Reader Interactions


  1. Jeremy Pope says

    I want a lot of feedback as an employee. I don’t want to perform a task poorly and not hear about it until my annual evaluation. I want to know as soon as possible. I havealways tried to give my employees that respect. I want that kind of respect in return.

    • S_Miley says

      Hey Jeremy, I agree. I can’t imagine spending so much time on my work and not receiving any feedback. I think it is the minimum necessary if we believe people are our most important asset!

  2. David Rupert says

    Sue…the worse ones I get are the ‘surprises.’ When my review is used to tell me things about my work that I didnt know. All year long should be a performance review, and not just at mid year or end of year. Those should just be the f’ormal times with plenty of informal feedback every day

  3. Bradley J. Moore says

    Blech. Well, someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to take the short cut. Could be a sign of the corporate culture, or just the sense of scarcity and fear that is pervading the organization.

    I agree that a performance review requires some level of investment in the employee. But it also should be an ongoing thing, so there are no surprises along the way. In this case, which is really tough, I think the employees would need even more reassurance and support. Don’t be surprised if some of these sales people are brushing up their resumes right now.

    • S_Miley says

      I agree with you both, David and Brad, we need to give feedback regularly as work occurs. It is again the way I would want to be treated. This to me was sort of the icing on the cake. I hear alot from managers that they don’t have time and the evaluations get pushed off. This is the first time I have heard a very large company articulate “not to waste the time’ delivering face to face. It seems we get further and further away from considering the people element. Thanks for your comments. And yes, a few resumes are being brushed off!

  4. Paul Steinbrueck says

    Hi Sue, just found your blog, coming here from thehighcalling.org. I agree wholeheartedly. As CEO, I want our staff to have clear expectations, and I want each person to be on the same page with their supervisor as to how well they’re meeting those expectations. We put quite a bit of time into annual performance reviews and definitely do things differently. I blogged about it here:

    10 Ways to Make Employee Performance Reviews Awesome – http://ow.ly/5sMwI

    • S_Miley says

      Wow Paul, Love your post on Performance reviews…will definitely bookmark as a reference. I really like the idea of a log. We humans can have short memories. the employee log will help us to be more specific in our feedback. I think people appreciate specific feedback so much more than generalities! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Danny McCall says

    I concur with your points. I have strived for may years to develop and offer a practical solution to this widespread workplace problem. Most present conventions are, in many ways, harmful to both people and their organizations. For those who are interested in the result of my research across decades of effort, I encourage you to explore what we’ve developed organizations of any size or industry, and for people of any profession, I encourage you to review our approach at: http://www.rppaq.com . Alternatively, if you are interested in this topic, you might consider a related book: “Work’s A We Thing” which can be found at Amazon.com . Thanks for discussing the greater perspective of performance and workplace communications. There is a way to have better work in better lives. These good work and good life by no means need to be mutually exclusive. Danny

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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