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May 2016

Why your annual performance review isn't working for you...

...and why howamigoing.com is here to help.


Company performance reviews have evolved into a complex and unnerving beast, scaring most people that stand in their path.  They’re an integral part of every business calendar and can’t be replaced.  But in our efforts to help employees better themselves professionally, we’ve inadvertently introduced a swathe of obstacles in the way of getting timely and quality feedback.

There are 8 major downfalls inherent in most company’s performance reviews:  


1.  They’re too infrequent, generally 12 months apart 

Unfortunately having to wait such a long time to receive quality feedback can be detrimental to your professional development. It can lead to stagnation, boredom, or the development of habits and perceptions that may be hard to overturn. 

Companies require a lot of processing time to conduct performance reviews. First, time to collect feedback for everybody from his or her colleagues. Then, time to collate and analyse feedback. Finally, time to sit down face-to-face and deliver the key messages.

This process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the size of the organisation. So it’s not surprising that performance reviews are typically conducted only once per year to minimise business disruption. 

At howamigoing.com we make sure that you can receive quality feedback every 30 days. As a result, your areas for improvement are quickly addressed and you’ll be able to take immediate steps toward continuous professional development.


2.  They often coincide with salary negotiations

Majority of performance reviews occur at the same time as compensation discussions.  While this is efficient for managers, it can result in biased feedback for employees and mask true underlying performance.

In a good year where your company’s profits are climbing and it can comfortably give you and all other employees a pay rise, morale is high among managers and your feedback is likely to be much more positive.

In a bad year where your company’s profits decline, they may not be able to give you a pay rise, and will certainly be less willing to.  To prevent a flight of talent this vintage, negative feedback usually finds its way to the top of the barrel and notes of “people are lucky in this environment to have a job” can be left on the palate.

At howamigoing.com the principal purpose of providing feedback is for the professional development of individuals, not for a company to compare performance across employees and inform remuneration decisions. At howamigoing.com you have the freedom to ask your managers for feedback outside the usual salary negotiation period. This means they can de-couple the performance review process from the budget setting process and can give you honest feedback on your progress.


3.  They’re delivered at the same time each year

Companies generally conduct appraisals alongside year-end or half-year reporting.  It makes sense from a budget-setting perspective given most reviews are coupled with salary/ bonus decisions.

Sadly, your manager’s ability to remember 12 months of your work is limited. Substantial emphasis is often placed on your performance leading up to the review (e.g. March, April and May for a June review), with any successes you had in the months following your last review now a distant memory.

At howamigoing.com you can ask for feedback any time of the year, such as immediately after an important project. This means you can receive real-time feedback on your current progress in November, rather than wait until the next performance review in June.


4.  They can be incredibly time consuming

Because most companies are only able to conduct performance reviews once per year, they want to make them as comprehensive as possible. Review forms now are often very lengthy and can take up to 30 minutes to complete.  In large organisations, the process of giving feedback can take hours!

Chances are that your manager isn’t excited about spending 4 hours to write about yours and your colleagues’ performance for the past 6 or 12 months.  Particularly with the back-log of client work sitting on her desk.  She’ll probably rush through your review so that she can get to the next, to the detriment of your professional development.

It takes less than 5 minutes to provide feedback to someone at howamigoing.com.  Our feedback form is incredibly simple: (1) Slide a scale from 1 to 5 to rate someone’s performance across 14 pre-selected, universally desirable attributes (e.g. Attention to Detail, Presentation Skills, Teamwork); (2) Leave an optional brief comment.  At howamigoing.com it’s a rewarding and enjoyable process, and can be done on a smartphone with the tips of your fingers.


5.  Feedback can be vague and difficult to act upon

A large portion of most company performance reviews centre around qualitative feedback, allowing people to add a personal touch to their review.

A side effect of this approach is that the content, focus and length of your feedback can vary widely across your reviewers.  Some reviews may be incredibly brief and only identify your key strengths. Other reviews may be paragraphs long but focus intensely on your areas of improvement.  How do you compare the two?

Feedback is standardised at howamigoing.com to create a clearer picture of your current performance.  This way you can immediately judge your strengths and areas for improvement by observing the comparative scores from all your colleagues across each attribute.  You can track your progress over time and soon you’ll be able to compare your scores against other subject groups – for example those in your industry, age band or city.


6.  Feedback can be unhelpful because it’s not given anonymously

A lot of employees are not comfortable providing honest feedback to their peers for fear of damaging personal relationships, or for fear of appearing too critical in the eyes of their manager (who reads their feedback before giving it to their co-worker). This can be particularly true when feedback is given face-to-face.

The downside of this is that your colleagues can understate your areas for improvement and overstate your strengths. Unfortunately this is to your detriment as it clouds the reality of how you’re actually performing.

At howamigoing.com we’ve found a way to overcome the awkwardness associated with reviews and ensure the feedback you receive is genuine.  We require you to ask for feedback from 2 or more contacts each time – you’ll then be able to view the average of the scores they give you – not their individual scores. This way your colleagues’ anonymity is preserved and they can be comfortable in giving you honest views.


7.  The company owns the feedback 

Very few employers distribute all the feedback they collect during a performance review to their staff. This can be because of the sensitivities associated with close colleagues reviewing each other’s performance, or because of time restrictions.

While there are benefits to filtering the feedback you receive, it can distort the true picture of how you are performing. Additionally, you will not be able to access that feedback if you leave your employer.

All the feedback you receive via howamigoing.com belongs to you. It will always be accessible online regardless of where you are in the world and who you are working for. This allows you to continue to track your progress if you change position, country or company.


8.  They can only be used between colleagues

There are very few avenues available for an employee to receive feedback from her client. Majority of performance reviews use software integrated into a company and able only to be used amongst colleagues.

If you’re in a service-centric role, such as real estate or sales, then successful client interaction can be more important than successful colleague interaction. If you’re a sole trader then the only people that can tell you how you’re going are your clients!

Because everything happens for free at howamigoing.com and it’s an open-source website, you can ask for feedback from absolutely anyone – colleague or client, past or present.  And because we focus on 14 attributes that will make you a better professional regardless of what industry you’re in, your clients will easily be able to provide feedback. AND! Because it takes less than 5 minutes to provide feedback, we’re sure your clients will take the time to let you know how you’re going.    

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