Communications failures blight performance reviews

2006

If you think you are giving your team members clear guidance on how to improve their performance, think again. Employers and employees often come out of performance review meetings having reached completely different conclusions.

There is often huge gap between what employees believe they are being told at performance review meetings and what their managers think they are telling them, new research has suggested.

A poll of 2,200 employers and 330 HR professionals by talent management website Salary.com has found just two out of five workers believe the performance review process leads to an improvement in performance, compared with more than two thirds of employers.

"The survey results show significant gaps between employers' and employees' views. This indicates the need within many organisations to improve the overall performance review process," said Salary.com vice-president Mark Albrecht.

The key problems were a lack of proper communication between both sides as well as a suspicion that the review process is not being conducted fairly or there may be other, unrelated factors overshadowing it.

"Many of the gaps between employers and employees result from unclear communication and limited transparency regarding how the review process is conducted and its impact on the employee," said Albrecht.

For instance, more than four out of five employers believed they provided clear goals to their employees prior to the formal performance review.

Yet nearly half of employees felt their goals had in fact not been clearly communicated.

While more than eight out of 10 employers felt they included input from their employees in the process, just four out of 10 employees agreed.

Another discrepancy was in the apparent frequency of performance-related discussions.

More than half of employers reported that managers conducted formal performance reviews two or more times a year.

Yet just a third of employees cited a similar frequency in response to the same question.

Three quarters of employers said they held at least quarterly discussions, but just over a quarter of employees said this was the case.