6 Ways You Know You Failed at Giving an Annual Review

Annual reviews. The phrase causes some to sigh in frustration, both those who give them and receive them. But annual reviews can be a valuable tool for evaluation, for development, and for aligning people to a common direction. The reason many sigh at the phrase is because when haphazardly used, they are not helpful and can actually harm people. It is ultimately up to the leader to utilize the time in a wise manner, to redeem the annual review process. If you are a leader who gives an annual evaluation to someone on your team, here are six ways to know you failed at giving a helpful and effective review.

1. You are not using your organization’s mission and values to evaluate.

If your mission and values are not embedded in your annual reviews, you don’t really believe them. Of course, that sounds like an overstatement, but organizations and ministries who really believe in their mission and values surely want their most important resource—their people—to view their roles through the lens of the mission and values. The roles in an organization or ministry must be deeply connected to the mission of the organization or ministry. The point of an annual review is to evaluate and discuss. How could the mission and values be absent in that discussion?

2. You don’t use a clear description of the role and/or goals to evaluate.

If you are preparing for an annual review and you cannot evaluate against a clear role and/or goals that the person has, you are winging the important conversation. Annual reviews are subjective, but a clearly defined role and goals make them as objective as possible.

3. You have not given positive feedback until now.

If you are preparing for the annual evaluation and you realize you have not given positive feedback all year, you are not only failing at the annual evaluation but you are also failing at encouraging people on your team.

4. The person is surprised.

If you are using the annual review as a time to unleash a laundry list of negative feedback, you are not leading well. People on your team should not be surprised by the content of the annual review. If you wait until an annual review to offer corrective feedback, months are wasted, and you have failed to give the person an opportunity to correct quickly.

5. You only evaluate the results.

If you only evaluate results, then high performing jerks with toxic attitudes can remain on the team. Attitude, chemistry, and commitment to the team all must be accounted for as well.

6. You did not ask for feedback.

If you don’t ask for feedback during the annual review you lead, you miss out on incredible learning your team can offer. More importantly, people can walk away feeling you don’t value their perspective and input. Or even them.