Let’s Talk About: Performance Reviews

I don’t believe in formal performance reviews. I think they create an environment where employers risk not confronting unsatisfactory performance when it happens — or acknowledging great work when it is delivered.

At TerraCycle, our approach has been to build a culture where feedback is given often and evenly to all 110 employees. We do this through a weekly reporting process (a topic I blogged about a few months ago) that requires every department to submit a detailed biweekly report to the whole company (every employee). In other words, everyone in the company sees the same reports that I do. Then, as chief executive, I write detailed responses to the reports that are also sent to all employees. This process allows everyone to be evaluated, frequently and without prejudice, in full view of their co-workers. I greatly prefer this approach to a more formal, once-a-year sit-down. Someone who isn’t performing well needs to know about it in real time, and someone who is doing great deserves immediate recognition.

The Times’s Boss Blog this morning is discussing performance reviews. I also agree that a big annual performance review isn’t necessary, and it’s great that the executive at TerraCycle is so transparent with everyone about their performance, but I do think having an annual meeting with a superior is good—even if it’s informal. I think it can be difficult for a lot of people to figure out when they’re supposed to ask for a raise, and an annual meeting can open that window for them. I’ve had performance reviews where I did exactly that—ask for a raise after reviewing the great work I did over the past year, and I’ve received them. How have your experiences been?



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