Employee Reviews Aren’t Like Tax Returns - They Are Worse!

Author: Ron Hiller l  Published Date 2/2013
Blog Cateogry: Performance Management

Completing employee performance reviews aren't amongst a manager's favorite past times, and understandably so! In this narrative, I compare the experience of completing a review to that of a tax return with one notable exception, the review is much worse!

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Raise Your Hand if you Enjoy Doing Tax Returns                        

Accountants are probably the only people who enjoy completing tax returns. They somehow are able to make sense out of the copious complex forms, deductions, and calculations. Thankfully the rest of us can turn to them in our moment of need. But time constrained managers at year end face the daunting task of completing their employee’s reviews alone. Imagine completing tax returns for ten people and you begin to gain an appreciation for the scope of a manager’s dilemma at review time.

The Devil is in the Process

Review forms have weightings, formulas, and calculations that rival those pesky tax forms conjured up by the perspicacious IRS. But if the review form wasn’t bad enough, the archaic manual hoops that HR, managers, and employees have to jump through is a nightmare. At least with the IRS you submit your form on line with a mouse click or mail it with a stamp and that’s the end of it. Oh if it could be that simple with an employee’s review. Let’s do a quick fly over.

Who's On First?

Review forms are emailed to managers by HR. Managers rack their brains to recount the employee’s twelve month performance, add their subjective ratings, comments, and calculations. They save the annual report card to their hard drive, email a copy to someone for approval. The email recipient inspects the review adds their comments and returns it to the manager. The manager replaces their saved copy with the new version.


Multi-Rater Feedback
Sometimes an employee works with managers at other locations, on different shifts, or in other departments. Getting feedback from them is cumbersome so this step is usually ignored thus short changing the employee's contributions.

Reviews Aren't a Spectator Sport

A best practice asks employees to complete and share a self-assessment with their managers during their face to face meeting; adding yet another manual step to an already bloated process. Some organizations elect to forgo this step, thus robbing the employee of a participative role in their performance review.


Battle of the Wills

The “face to face” meeting resembles a tax audit. Armed with supporting documentation manager and employee face off prepared to make their points and negate any challenge.


The Price Is Right
Managers and employees banter back and forth about discrepancies. Calculations are made, comments and signatures captured, hard copies made and distributed, where they unceremoniously end up in the HR file grave yard behind lock and key.



All for Naught

Performance data should be held to a higher standard than a tax return. Leaders should be able to filter the organization’s data to identify trends, development needs, and make succession planning and compensation decisions. Instead reviews sit in filing cabinets; documentation of a completed perfunctory process.


Stick to Your Knitting

The best gift an organization can give itself is an online performance management system. Stay on task and say goodbye to wrestling with an inefficient and distracting process by placing your reviews in the cloud.


READ - Performance Management Blog "Why Employees Get a Bad Rap"


READ - Leadership Blog  "Dispelling 4 Leadership Myths"


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