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Why Canceling Performance Reviews is the Wrong Move

With the events of 2020 throwing new responsibilities and a myriad of personal challenges on employees, many companies are scrapping formal year-end performance reviews or opting for a gentler, more praise-centric approach. This is a mistake.  

While leaders should take into account the many changes and challenges employees faced this year, codling them or generating false praise for the sake of ending the year on a positive note may result in misunderstandings and an under-prepared workforce in 2021 

This year, employees had to take on added demands and shift priorities to meet the needs of the business in new ways, and while some stepped up to produce great results, others work product wasn’t up-to-par. Especially for those who took on new responsibilities during the pandemic, if employees do not know what areas to improve on or are misinformed on how their work is being received, that work product will continue into next year.  

The challenges of 2020 will not cease at midnight on December 31. In actuality, 2021 will bring its own challenges as businesses continue to evolve in response to a potential new presidency, vaccine distribution, returning to the office and more. Leadership providing honest feedback to their under-performers now is the only way to help them redirect their energy and work style to improve their performance for the challenges yet to come 

Empathetic leadership, an approach taken by many leaders throughout the pandemic in order to help support employee mental health, does not mean leaders should cancel reviews or dismiss conversations about employee improvements. True empathy requires honesty and when employees are unaware of their performance, it can increase stress unnecessarilyWith many companies having had to eliminate positions, leaders could even be putting their employees’ jobs at risk by not providing cleafeedback 

In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, LaSalle Network’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Sirmara Campbell, states “that while employee performance reviews have no doubt changed due to the pandemic, the goal remains the same. The point of performance reviews is to give employees the opportunity to develop, which in turn helps the company grow. Even at a time of heightened stress, we still need to make sure we are providing useful feedback to help the employee and the company move forward.” 

Employees need consistency and transparency. Discussing where employees are excelling, or where they are falling short, should be a regular conversation. In fact, any feedback given during a performance review should never come as a surprise. The performance review should never be the first time they hear the feedback – good or bad, and especially if it’s criticism. You’re hindering the employee’s development when you do thatSociety has developed a fear of feedback, with a negative connotation attached to "feedback.” Rather, present it to an employee as an opportunity to be a stronger professional in the year ahead. 

If you’re looking to build a strong team in the year ahead, click here for information on how we can help.