What you think about performance reviews may depend on which side of the desk you sit. When Salary.com surveyed 2,000 employees and 330 human-resources professionals, it found that while two-thirds of companies believe their performance reviews are effective, only 39 percent of employees agree.
One reason for the disconnect, says Jeff Summer, a global leader of talent management at Deloitte, is widely divergent expectations. "Employees actually want to have a meaningful conversation about their performance and career development, but employers are often simply complying with performance-review policies."
As further evidence of a disconnect, the survey also found that 82 percent of employers believe they provided clear goals to their employees before conducting formal reviews, but only 46 percent of workers said they fully understood their goals. Mark Albrecht, vice president of talent-management solutions for Salary.com, says that managers often try to communicate such matters via informal conversations, but employees don't realize the import of such talks. An employee may not realize his or her performance is at issue, Albrecht says, "unless the manager comes right out and says it."
Companies have plenty of motivation to improve their performance evaluations. "There aren't enough knowledge workers now, and it's going to worsen over the next 10 years," Summer says. Younger employees have also come to expect more career guidance and a clearer picture of their paths to the top, he adds.
Summer says companies should train managers on effective communication and emphasize coaching and career development. Albrecht recommends that managers discuss performance with their employees at least quarterly.