How to Evaluate Employees Without Them Hating You


Feedback is critical – but has to be delivered in the right way.

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Earlier this month, global retail giant Amazon confirmed they will be shaking up its widely criticised employee review process, which ranks employees on their performance against each other with the premise that the lowest ranking employee will be ‘managed out’, resulting in an elite and ‘more productive’ workforce.

The controversial management technique – dubbed “stack ranking” or “rank and yank” – harks back to Microsoft’s former employee appraisal system and is blamed for breeding a negative culture at the corporation, the evidence of which can be found on countless Glassdoor reviews.

While employee evaluations are integral to the growth and development of both the employee and organisation, they are a universally dreaded aspect of working life. Indeed, one study shows that 45% of human resources consider traditional performance reviews to be inaccurate while 53% of employees admitted that standard reviews don’t motivate them to work harder.

“These stats show that HR has lost confidence in the traditional review process,” Eric Mosley, CEO of social recognition firm Globoforce, who performed the study has said. “Most people know that employees dread annual reviews, but when nearly half of HR professionals agree, it’s clear we need a new approach to how employee performance is measured and evaluated.”

Thankfully, there are ways to conduct employee appraisals that inspire improvement without disrupting the happy harmony of your company.

Crowdsource performance reviews

The notion that just one person has the power and responsibility to deliver a performance review is an out-dated one, says Eric, who is also the author of The Crowdsourced Performance Review and The Power of Thanks. “Enter the wisdom of crowd – or crowdsourcing,” suggests Eric. “A group of independently deciding individuals is more likely to make better decisions and more accurate observations than those of an individual. Crowdsourcing, be leveraging social recognition data, is a better way for managers to collect, evaluate and share information on employee performance,” explains Eric, who adds that crowdsourcing performance reviews has already been implemented at several leading organisations.

Scrap annual appraisals

Instead, consider drip-feeding your feedback on a more regular basis. “Performance management is undergoing quite a revolution at present, with many companies abandoning annual appraisals and ratings in favour of a more continuous all year feedback, coaching, and check-in loop,” explains Eric. “As businesses become more fast-paced and collaborative, employees want and need to receive feedback in real-time, in order to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.”

Recognise employee endeavours

But be specific. “Don’t just say ‘thanks for all you do.’ Explain why you’re appreciative,” advises Eric. “This allows for employees to revisit their triumph and makes it clear what types of value-driven behaviour fuel recognition.” As Eric points out, 83% of employees report a positive employee experience when they feel their good work has been recognised, compared to the 38% who don’t receive recognition at all.

Deliver feedback – and then listen to theirs

We all know the value of listening and just because you happen to be the person dealing out tasks, doesn’t mean those ideals should go out the window.

“Employees who feel their ideas and suggestions matter are more than twice as likely to report a positive employee experience than those who don’t,” says Eric.

Treat employees like humans

As philosopher Alain de Botton pointed out to us, there are plenty of organisations who forget that at the heart of their company are people who are constantly feeling fearful about things like performance and failure.

“All organisations are a collection of humans,” Eric – who spearheaded the WorkHuman movement, a crusade to create a richer employee experience – reminds us. “WorkHuman is about treating employees not as human capital but as people. An organisation is only as impactful as the humans within it. The challenge for companies is to build cultures and systems that are fit for humans.” Indeed, studies show that employees “that experience a higher level of humanity at work tend to perform better, and are less likely to quit their jobs,” concludes Eric.

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