The Last Word: Hate Performance Reviews? Millennials Hate Them Most of All

Editor’s Note: After five plus years, Weekly Wrap is changing to The Last Word because, well, it’s TLNT’s last word on what’s happening this week in HR and talent management. 

It’s pretty damn easy to bash performance reviews.

As The New Yorker noted in an article this past summer,

Few institutional practices are as old, or have been hated as long, as the performance review.”

Last year, The Washington Post published the results of a survey research by psychologists at Kansas State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Texas A&M University into employee evaluations, and the somewhat tongue-in-cheek headline on The Post story pretty much tells it all:

Study Finds That Basically Every Single Person Hates Performance Reviews.

I have long made the case, based on years of writing and giving performance reviews, that the employee evaluation process in most organization’s is flawed and broken, but I’m not going to go down that road here, especially because there are other voices — like frequent TLNT contributor and Success Factors/SAP Vice President Steve Hunt — who make a great case for simply improving the review process.

Millennials think performance reviews suck

So, please consider this performance review data from a new survey by TriNet — they provide HR services for small and midsize businesses, including TLNT’s parent company, ERE Media — as simply a snapshot in time about a long-standing talent management process.

The survey, according to a Tri-Net press release, “Reveals the negative impacts of traditional performance reviews on working Millennials. While performance reviews are widely accepted, the survey confirms that companies need to radically change their process for sharing feedback in order to retain top talent and stay competitive in today’s job market, especially with the younger workforce.”

Here are some of the key findings, and they aren’t pretty:

  • Three out of four (74 percent) of Millennials frequently feel “in the dark” about how their managers and peers think they’re performing at work.
  • 62 percent of Millennials say they have felt “blindsided” by a performance review.
  • About half (47 percent) feel that receiving a performance review makes them feel like they can’t do anything right.
  • Nearly one in four Millennials (22 percent) have called in sick because they were anxious about receiving their review.

These aren’t good numbers if you are a manager who manages Millennials, and given that Gen Y is now the largest generation in the workforce, that means that just about every manager needs to be concerned.

Wanted: More frequent feedback

But wait, there’s more to the survey —

  • Nearly six out of 10 (59 percent) of Millennials frequently feel their manager is unprepared to give feedback during performance reviews.
  • 40 percent say the feedback they get is too vague.
  • More than half (57 percent) have reacted to a performance review by:
    • Looking for a new job (28 percent);
    • Complaining to co-workers (35 percent);
    • Cursing (15 percent); and,
    • Crying (15 percent).

Cursing and crying over performance reviews? Are they really that bad? For Millennials, they are indeed.

The TriNet survey also notes that, “As a better option, nearly nine out of 10 (85 percent) would feel more confident in their current position if they could have more frequent performance conversations with their manager.”

I say “amen” to that, because the one upside to all the dissing of performance reviews is that the biggest problem is that they are simply not as frequent as they need to be and that employees both want and need regular, consistent feedback on their performance — hopefully in the form of an ongoing conversation with their manager.

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Of course, that requires managers to get off their ass and focus on talking a lot more with their staffs, but as they say, that’s another post for another day.

The TriNet Perform Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 U.S. fulltime employees born after 1980 between Sept. 4 –15, 2015, using an email invitation and an online survey. This survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Potty parity a problem at Amazon.com

Of course, there’s more than Millennials bashing performance reviews going on this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly wrap-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Why having employees on-call may be going away. On-call scheduling has always been a dubious (and terribly lazy and abusive) management practice, but it may be going away. Retailer J. Crew last week announced they were ending the practice after state “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office wrote to 13 retailers questioning the practice of keeping workers on call for shifts on short notice. The letter also cited possible violations of New York’s requirement to pay hourly staff for at least four hours when they report for work,” according to Crain’s New York Business.
  • The latest gripe for Amazon.com workers: Potty parity. This one goes back to last month, but in all the bad press it has gotten for its workforce practices, no one ever said their is reverse discrimination going on at Amazon when it comes to bathroom facilities. The Seattle Times reports that, “Due to a typical gender imbalance of our employees, we typically have long lines for using restroom stalls in most of the South Lake Union Amazon offices,” a male Amazonian wrote in a complaint filed with the state, according to GeekWire. … On one floor, there were 60 male employees and only three females. So each woman effectively had her own personal toilet stall, while the men apparently were roaming about like cats without a litter box. In one building, there were 558 male workers, and 105 female. According to potty parity, however, each gender gets roughly the same number of toilets.”
  • Gender discrimination at the Stanford Business School? The New York Times recently dug into a sorry tale of personal relationships gone wrong at the Stanford Business School that led to a lawsuit — a lawsuit that “revealed the existence of a 2014 petition signed by 46 current and former employees — about 10 percent of the staff members — who claimed there was “a hostile work environment” that differentiated “on the basis of gender and age.”
  • Dilbert on idiot bosses — Is there anything funnier that how the comic strip Dilbert portrays idiot bosses? Here are the 10 funniest strips on this always popular topic, according to Business Insider.

 

  • Howard Risher

    This is not rocket science. It’s clear the ‘solution’ is a transition to coaching throughout the year. The recent HBR column on GE’s new approach says it all. It may well mean that ineffective people managers should be moved to non-supervisory roles but they no doubt know they are ineffective and will actually benefit from being ‘demoted.’ Its also an argument for dual career ladders so technical experts do not feel compelled to become managers. Everyone wins.