For years, the annual performance review has been an exhausting and unpleasant exercise in futility. Managers and employees alike have long dreaded the annual performance review, and many studies have shown it to be largely ineffective. They typically involve lots of paperwork and can inflict unnecessary, sometimes harmful, stress on everyone involved. However, there are several ways in which employers and managers can improve these reviews and see the results that these reviews were designed to achieve. This checklist will help employers achieve better results and will create a performance review system that helps cultivate a better, more productive work environment.

Include Positive, Not Just Negative, Evaluations

The tendency in these reviews is to focus exclusively on what the employee is doing wrong, while ignoring what they might be doing right. In today’s modern work environment, it is important to not only critique, but also point out when the employee has gone above and beyond for the company. In many ways, the annual performance review is still tailored to the baby boomer generation. Older generations preferred their bosses to leave them alone, and the “no news is good news” edict was the norm. Today’s generations are different, and expect their accomplishments to be recognized as much as they expect their shortcomings to be critiqued.

Go Electronic 
Annual performance reviews are incredibly cumbersome for managers and employers. Managers and employers must adapt performance reviews to the modern world in which we live. The easiest way to improve the employee appraisal process is to simply put the evaluations online. There is no good reason for human resource managers and generalists to have to track down managers who don’t complete reviews on time or waste hours filing paper. An online performance review system will reduce paperwork for the employer and the employee and allow managers and their reports to spend more time on the evaluations, and less on busy work.

Built-in Improvement 
The annual performance review should not just be used as a means to review past performance or compensation. It’s also an opportunity to improve future employee performance. The ultimate goal of the annual performance review should be to create a more productive and engaged worker. There must be built-in processes to help an employee address and respond to performance gaps and develop his potential in the current job and future roles.

Make Evaluations More Frequent and Less Formal
One of the biggest criticisms of the annual performance review, is that it is annual. These reviews are rendered largely ineffective because they identify problems when a solution was needed months ago. By having more frequent reviews, managers can identify and solve problems much faster, thus eliminating problems and enhancing productivity. Once a year reviews are also quite stressful for employees and managers alike. In essence, it is their one shot to prove their worth to the company. There’s a lot riding on these reviews. A good one can mean a promotion and a raise. A bad one can lead to termination. Having quarterly evaluations will lead to better outcomes. If the employee is doing something wrong, they now know that they have an opportunity to correct it rather than simply being fired or demoted. With social media and an entire generation being raised on real-time response, people expect feedback much more frequently.

The performance review was designed to help managers and employees. Unfortunately, poor execution undermines its success. By following the guidelines described above, employee performance reviews will be more effective and workers more productive.