Annual Reviews…Who Needs Them?

yahoo ceoThe New York Times had a good “Corner Office” piece with Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, on Sunday.  Any time some one as accomplished as she uses the word “antiquated” when referring to an HR program, it gets my attention.  Ms. Bartz is apparently a fan of the “puppy theory” when providing feedback – both praise and criticism need to be immediate.  Nothing worse than looking back on what could have been done more effectively…eight months ago.  Not only is the impact diminished, but the chances of even getting the feedback are drastically reduced.  Do we over-engineer the performance review process?  Should we focus less on the forms, the process, the accountability and focus more on behavior modification – conditioning our managers to give feedback ALL THE TIME.  Ms. Bartz goes as far to say that if “[she] had [her] way, [she] wouldn’t even do annual reviews.”  Well all righty, then.  And why the hell not not?  The only reason we really do the year-end reviews is so we can check a box and show everyone we care about performance management.  When we give managers a chance to formally practice providing meaningful feedback only once a year, those managers are more likely to put it on the shelf for the next twelve months.  Let’s find a way to make sure our managers are giving feedback all year long and – maybe more importantly – that our employees are asking for it, expecting it, even demanding it!  And one more thing: take a look at your current review form.  If it’s more than 1 page, it’s probably too long. (Sorry - pet peeve)

  • Erik Bartz

    I couldn’t agree more – annual reviews need to be shown the door.

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