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Much has been written about Performance Reviews in the last few years. Most of it has been negative.


These systems were introduced by forward-thinking companies in the 1980s. They were designed to measure people’s performance against criteria rather than their manager’s opinion.  It determined the broad cohort of performers they fell into and enabled discussions about development for the coming year.


The intention was right. However, the reality is that the system has not delivered in almost ANY business.


Instead we have managers dreading the performance review period with its endless boxes to tick or grade. Calculating meaningless ‘overall scores’ or ‘average’ and forcing people’s performance to fit a normal distribution curve.


We aim to create a high-performance culture and to move performance levels to excellent levels for 80% of staff. Yet by definition the bulk of them sit around average.




Following the completion of this well-intentioned but relatively meaningless document, there follows the dreaded performance review meeting.


There are often disagreements about the ratings. Situations raised are either so long ago that the person has only a vague recollection of them. Or alternatively, the situations raised occurred in the last month only, even though it’s an annual review.


80% of the performance review is spent looking in the rear-view mirror. We spend the final 20% looking through the windscreen, discussing how to better utilise the person’s strengths and how to develop their weaknesses or expand their skill set.


Planning the future is the most important part for impacting performance, yet we spend the LEAST amount of time on it. 


And as most of you know it’s often worse than this. Having agreed the 2-3 areas for development in the coming year, we then treat these goals like New Year’s Resolutions.  Very little actually gets implemented.  In fact, some years we roll the same development goals from one performance review to the next!





So how can you make the performance review process better?


Many companies are abolishing their annual performance review system.  They are moving instead to regular, short meetings with the staff. Structured meetings that actually move the needle and drive performance.


Whether you are fortunate to be managing in one of the leading companies with the new structure or needing to persevere with an old-style performance review system, it’s the conversations you have with your team that actually drive performance.


These conversations need to enable you to:

  • Give honest feedback without the person becoming defensive or emotional
  • Set clear and meaningful development goals with your direct report
  • Ensure they are motivated to achieve these goals and take accountability
  • Ask the right questions in the right way to retain your best talent





Don’t spend December and January dreading Performance Reviews. Find out how to have the conversations you need to have, and get the results you want rather than the reaction you fear.

To LEARN MORE about our internationally successful system that teaches you how to have conversations that actually DRIVE performance, contact World Class Teams on 1300 085 248 or email