June 15, 2021
Performance Management 27 November 2017
7 Mistakes To Avoid When Giving Annual Performance Reviews
Eva Wislow

Most of the managers see annual performance reviews as a necessary evil which doesn’t harm their companies but doesn’t really bring any benefits either. It even seems like more than 45% of executives claim that existing performance evaluations had no positive impact on their organizations.

But the fact remains that annual performance reviews represent a genuine employee engagement booster when done properly. The only problem is that some managers don’t take it so seriously and make wrong decisions while conducting such evaluations. In this article, we are going to reveal 7 mistakes that you have to avoid when giving annual performance reviews.

Things to avoid while making performance reviews

Not only that poor performance reviews don’t do your company any good but they can also undermine staff efforts and decrease employee engagement. According to Martina Wolf, an HR expert at CareersBooster, it’s better not to create an annual performance review than to do it poorly: 

“Making false statements, wrong conclusions, and other omissions, you will jeopardize the productivity of your workforce“. 

But what exactly are the most common mistakes in this process? Let’s take a closer look here.

1. Lack of preparation

We already mentioned that a lot of senior executives consider this duty a big burden. They don’t prepare well for annual performance reviews and dedicate the minimum attention to it. This is obviously why 45% of HR leaders think that performance reviews are not an accurate appraisal of employee’s work.

Underprepared, team leaders often create poor and inaccurate reports. They do it in a hurry and come up with vague conclusions, which in total makes little or no effect at all. If you are in charge of creating annual reviews, don’t make this sort of mistake.

2. Take everything into account

People cannot possibly remember everything. That’s why you need to write things down and carefully analyze the year-long efforts of your team members. Some managers suffer from the so-called recency effect and remember things selectively. Namely, it’s a well-known fact that people remember recent events the most, which is why you could start judging an employee by his or her actions only in the last few weeks.

At the same time, the beginning is the second most remembered period of time, so you’ll probably take it into account as well. However, the vast majority of team leaders simply forget the in-between period and create incomplete reports. Bear this in mind and dedicate enough time to analyze employee productivity month by month.

3. It’s not data-driven

It’s good to emphasize the most important skills and qualities of your workers. For instance, someone possesses great knowledge, while the other person is reliable and hard-working. But these are not genuine accomplishments. Instead, they are personal traits and qualities.  

If you want to conduct a comprehensive review, you need to keep it more informative and data-driven. Let’s put it like this – you should emphasize that person A did something in project B which set preconditions for the increase in sales by 13%. This sort of information is very precise and relevant for the annual performance review, so don’t forget to embrace the data-driven methodology.

4. You make only negative comments

Nobody is perfect and it is natural to notice some shortcomings in the work of your employees. You need to put it in your report and discuss it face-to-face with your colleagues. However, it would be totally wrong to emphasize only the worst details of their work.

This behavior will have a counter effect as more than 30% of performance reviews end up decreasing employee performance. You need to be proactive and encourage workers to correct these mistakes. Don’t be 100% negative about it – let it be the opportunity to detect all flaws and set things right after the annual meeting.

5. Everything is good until it’s not really that good

If you don’t dedicate enough time to the creation of a solid annual performance review, you will make a poor report and lose the opportunity to improve employee productivity. Additionally, you will keep repeating that everybody is doing fine year after year, regardless of their actual achievements.

But sooner or later you will realize that somebody made some serious mistakes and you won’t have a choice but to fire this person. This is very bad because it will probably cost you a lot to find a new employee while you could’ve simply given better instructions to the old one.

6. You don’t ask for employee feedback

Annual performance reviews are meant to improve employee retention, engagement, and productivity. It’s a two-way process in which you are supposed to talk to your workers and see what should be done better.

 If you don’t ask your subordinates for feedback after annual reviews, chances are you will undermine their work enthusiasm, whereas almost 70% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

7. No follow-up plan

After you’ve seen what is good and what is wrong, you need to determine the next steps and create a follow-up plan. Don’t expect your employees to improve all by themselves - always set precise objectives for the following year and keep reminding them about it. This is the only way to make sure that annual performance reviews will have a real contribution to the company.


Annual performance reviews are a great way to boost employee engagement but some managers don’t take it so seriously and make all sorts of mistakes in the process. If you want to avoid this issue in your company, you need to prepare well and understand the whole idea behind these evaluations. 

In this article, we showed you 7 mistakes that you have to avoid when giving annual performance reviews. Keep them in mind and let us know in comments if you have other interesting suggestions on this topic. 

Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR Executive from Pittsburgh. She is on a mission to help people find their true calling. Eva maintains a strong interest in bringing the digital revolution in human resources. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Connect with Eva on Twitter.