The Dreaded Performance Review

It's pretty safe to say that no one loves performance reviews.

Perhaps it's all in the name. Reviews are subjective and we can't control the other person's perspective. Performance reviews cause employees to stew over past mistakes and faux pas, and create anxiety over how these will be interpreted. Even managers walk a nerve-wracking tightrope to balance negative criticism with acknowledgment of positive traits.

Despite high-profile companies announcing that performance reviews are over, most businesses continue the annual custom.


  • To address or improve employee skills and behaviour?
  • Salary negotiation?
  • To manage employees and plan job advancement and training opportunities?

A Review, or a Preview?

Dr Samuel Culbert is the author of “Get Rid of the Performance Review!”. He suggests, in an article of the same name, that businesses do performance previews instead:

“Previews are problem-solving, not problem-creating, discussions about how we, as teammates, are going to work together even more effectively and efficiently than we've done in the past. They feature descriptive conversations about how each person is inclined to operate, using past events for illustrative purposes, and how we worked well or did not work well individually and together.”

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A Strategic Shift in Perspective

Dr Culbert's 'previews' provide plenty of room for reflection. It’s a subtle mental shift of taking your past experiences and planning ahead, rather than dwelling on past errors to justify future limitations.

The focus on the future exudes potential, rather than faults; collaboration rather than subjection. Yet a 'preview' does carefully step away from the air of judgment that is associated with a 'review'.

So put time aside to implement such discussion. Consider the possiblities for the coming year. We may not be ready to love performance reviews yet, but we can stop hating them and reduce anxiety by placing the emphasis on finding better ways to work together in the future.

Managers and employees might just be better for it.

Does your organisation have policies and procedures in place to conduct thoughtful, meaningful performance reviews (or previews)?

Spindle Consulting has performance management solutions that can be tailored for your organisation. Find out more...