Annual Performance Reviews Suck!


Being in the corporate world can really suck sometimes. Now is definitely one of those times, as my company is nearing the end of its fiscal and performance year. Because of this all employees have to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing reports, summaries, etc about the work we performed during the last 12 months. These efforts are concentrated over a several week period that culminates in our annual review. At previous employers, my annual review involved me sitting down with my immediate supervisor (boss) and going over the things that went well over the last year, as well as looking at opportunities for improvement. At my current job we have a stringent and comprehensive annual review process.

Annual Review Process

  • During the year you have to write up individual reports on all work you perform (at least one for each project you work on)
  • These reviews are reviewed by someone you reported to on that specific project and you are given a rating and feedback
  • At the end of the year (now), you pull together any remaining reports, any notes from clients, make sure all client hours are accounted for with some form of feedback, etc
  • You then fill out a form telling everyone how great you are
  • Next you take this file and review it with your “mentor” (for lack of a better term) who acts as your proxy during the annual review
  • Your mentor has 2-3 minutes to present your entire file to a review committee and recommend a rating for you (only facts from the file can be used during this process, and you are judged against your peers)
  • A group of file reviewers hears the case presented for you and assigns you a rating
  • A few weeks later (maybe a month or so) your mentor calls you up to tell you what your rating is, and how you can do better next year
  • A few weeks after that, another mentor (one higher up in the company) calls to tell you about any promotion/salary increase/bonus information

Does It Work?

While I understand that the process has to be strict and rigid to ensure that all employees are treated fairly…I still think it is a crappy way to go about it. It ends up treating employees like widgets in a factory or gears in a machine instead of real people.  While I receive feedback from individuals on each project, there’s no way to capture I’m developing from project to project and year to year. I think a large piece of performance (especially year over year) is in how well you performed not only against your peers, but also how you improved and developed over the last year. With the structure our company has, I think it’s hard to gain that understanding and depth.

Also, with the file reviewers spending anywhere from 3-5 minutes (they have a short Q&A time) on each file, I think it’s a joke to imagine that they are able to completely (or even moderately) comprehend the full impact of what each person contributed to the company over the last year. This time of year brings out a lot of stress and frustration in me (and a lot of my coworkers). I do a lot more thinking about changing jobs during this time period, but as the stress starts to dissipate, I end up staying put, as I’m sure I will do again this year.

A Flawed Process

Do I think the process is flawed? Yes. Do I think it could be 100% better? Yes. Does this make me want to become financially independent and strike out on my own somehow? Hell yes!

I think the main point for me is just to keep this all in perspective. All I need to do is get through the next few weeks and come out on the other side. I’m not looking to rocket to the top of the corporation, I’m just looking to be a good performer who gets recognized as such. Let’s hope that my patience and stress level can handle all of this, otherwise I may blow a fuse before the process is over! At the end of the day, anything that serves to motivate me to move to a better environment where I have more control over my future is a good thing. Hopefully I’ll have this same fire burning in me after the annual review process is over, wish me luck!

Does your company have a ridiculous review process? If so, I’d like to hear about it in the comments section!



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