Organization & Leadership Consulting

Why Performance Evaluations Fail 

A sticky note with performance evaluation good and bad
Why do performance evaluations fail?

On the face of it, performance evaluations are useful tools that ensure proper guidance and success for your team members. They can also help keep the organization in ship shape. If this is the case, then why are so many employees frustrated and belittled while employers are left at a loss? Why do performance evaluations fail?

Poorly Timed Performance Evaluations

One reason for the shipwreck of performance evaluations is timing. In the hustle and bustle of the average business, some overlook evaluations since their impact and meaning is not immediately apparent. Leadership often decides to deprioritize performance evaluations, often merely through avoidance of them. And many company leaders default to only an annual performance review. The reality is…that’s just not sufficient. Extended passages of time from one review to the next is prohibitive to any real benefit that the review might have had. Real-time help is more beneficial. There is a minimal incentive for team members to strive for excellence when the next review is so far away. 

The solution is a more frequent and meaningful performance evaluation process. Quarterly performance reviews are more ideal because they place more visible goals on the horizon for your team. Also, consider the importance of immediate feedback. It’s not necessary or always beneficial to wait until the official evaluation to give helpful input to your team members. Waiting to mention a job well done or a point of improvement can minimize the impact of the statement. Give encouragement in real-time. Give suggestions for improvement in the moment. Schedule the official performance evaluation and make it everyone’s priority while also engaging regularly in the process with your team. 

Performance Goals are Unclear

Another reason the ship can steer off course for performance evaluations is because performance goals are unclear. Frequently, we use language around evaluations that is nebulous and uninformed. What does it really mean to “improve performance” or “increase productivity?” Those terms are minimally helpful at best.

The solution is to incorporate more clear, tangible, and measurable goals, together. Quantify the performance of your team members as best you can. Percentages and actual numeric goals are helpful. Consider phrasing that includes specific numerical measurements like “meets deadlines 95% of the time” or “increase productivity by 5 units per quarter.” Consider the passage of time to quantify performance goals in phrases like “implement plan by November 15.” The performance evaluation will be more successful with mutually agreed-upon, clear, and measurable goals.

One-Sided Evaluations

Finally, mutiny has been known to wreck a ship or two. Make sure your crew members have the opportunity to give their thoughts and opinions to the captain. The crew won’t care about the success of the voyage, if you devalue them. 

The solution? Provide the opportunity for your employees to offer suggestions for improvement. Also, listen to their feedback and genuinely consider it, integrating what makes meaningful sense. You need to consider all voices, so your business can realize lasting progress. When your crew members feel valued, you will truly reap the benefits of a healthy team. It increases smooth sailing from there. 

Performance evaluations don’t have to fail. TurningWest has the compass to guide your ship into the waters of prosperity. Learn how to conduct performance evaluations to the betterment of your team and your business. TurningWest – Your Guide to a healthy culture with meaningful results.


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