Article: Adobe Study: Performance Reviews get a Thumbs Down

Performance management systems

Adobe Study: Performance Reviews get a Thumbs Down

Employees, both workers and managers find performance reviews to be stressful and an absolute waste of time.
Adobe Study: Performance Reviews get a Thumbs Down

All of us participate in the annual ritual of performance review, but is it any good and helps us perform better? The views may be contrasting, but there are some interesting results of an Adobe -commissioned Study. The results pointed out a huge thumbs down to performance reviews. As a matter of fact, the study revealed that reviews are considered irrelevant and unproductive and a waste of time and cumbersome by both employees as well as managers who conduct these reviews. 

About the study

1500 office workers in the US were asked to complete a 20-minutes survey. The participants were millennials, Gen X and boomers who have been in the organization for at least a year and also been through one performance review. 

Whether it is a popular opinion or not, but performance reviews are supposed to guide employees into doing the right thing and better their performance. However, this survey revealed the contrary. 73 percent of millennials who answered the survey think that reviews negatively impact their ability to do their job and 68% said they aren’t effective. 

Their responses to performance review process were both interesting and intriguing.

Outdated and time-consuming

Around 64% office workers and 62% managers agreed that performance reviews are outdated and 72% office workers and 88% managers think preparing for reviews is extremely time-consuming. Managers, in fact on an average spend 17 hour per employee preparing for a review. 58% believe it is an inconsequential HR requirement and 59% agreed that these reviews have very little impact on their jobs. 

Find it stressful and have cried

57% participants agreed that performance reviews put them in competition with each other and 52% believed it upsets them to be reviewed against peers. No wonder nearly six in 10 said such performance reviews at work are stressful. In fact, 61% felt that their managers play favourites. The survey also reveals that millennials are more likely than any other generations to have taken reviews to heart and cried. They even looked for other job opportunities or quit. In fact, as mentioned in the report, “men are more likely than women to have cried, looked for another job or quit.”

They dislike performance review so much and added stress that 41% would switch to an organization that doesn’t have formal performance review systems in place. And, they won’t mind switching at the same salary or position. 

Want change

Ratings is not what workers want. They want a change wherein feedback is more qualitative. In this regard, it is not surprising to see that 80% responded saying they would like feedback in the moment as opposed to being rated for performance and reviewed after months. Given a chance, more than half of office workers (across generations) and 66% managers wish they could get rid of or change current performance review process. 

Will scrapping traditional performance review system really benefit office workers? Around 46% participants believed it will make organisations more flexible. 38% believed it will result in a collaborative culture and 44% agreed it will result in happier clients. 

Should organisations scrap review process?

Back in 2012 Adobe did exactly that. In an intranet article Donna Morris, VP Executive Vice President, Customer and Employee Experience wrote that, “ultimately, we need to accomplish three things: review contributions, reward accomplishments, and give and receive feedback. Do they need to be conflated into a cumbersome process? I don’t think so. It’s time to think radically differently. If we did away with our ‘annual review,’ what would you like to see in its place? What would it look like to inspire, motivate, and value contributions more effectively?” 

The outcome of abolishing the traditional, daunting performance review process at Adobe resulted in morale boost of employees and feedback is now viewed as a “gift”! It even witnessed 30% decline in the number of employees quitting Adobe. Certainly, the decision worked in everyone’s favour.  

Topics: Performance management systems

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