Goodbye Employee Performance Reviews, Welcome Radical Transparency?

Goodbye Employee Performance Reviews, Welcome Radical Transparency?

With the end of 2019 looming, many companies are preparing to get their annual employee performance reviews underway. But while the intention behind these interviews is to build something positive, the real impact can be very different. So, isn’t it time to wave goodbye to the employee performance review? Is it time for Radical Transparency?

Of course, questions over the worth of performance reviews are not exactly new. In fact, it has been a topic of debate for the last few years. But traditional management practices always placed a high value on them, both in terms of employee engagement and learning more about staff.

These are positive elements that are still pointed to, but research has also shown that, for employees, the overall view of the annual performance review is negative. Some might even say demotivating – precisely the opposite effect intended.

According to a Gallup study, just 14% of employees said they ‘strongly agree’ that performance reviews inspire them to improve. However, a significant majority (86%) feeling less convinced that such exercises have the positive result on them that it should. Namely, they are not inspired to improve.

The most recent research (Oct 2019), shows that, in the UK, almost half of the employees surveyed (49%) were either ‘indifferent to’ or ‘dreaded’ the annual end-of-year performance appraisals. It also revealed that age and length of service impacted these attitudes, with 45% of all Baby Boomers (over 50s) indifferent compared to a 33% average and 40% of employees with 5 years’ service or more having the same view.

Negative Feedback Damaging

Perhaps the most telling statistics are those that relate to the post-review impact where the overall feedback is negative. Gallup’s report shows that almost 80% of employees who receive a negative review begin their search for a new job. 50.5% respondents passively seeking a move and 29.1% actively seeking a change. Even employees who receive a positive review are not shy of considering working elsewhere, almost 40%.

There is a similarly poor reaction when it comes to employee engagement. 89% of employees with negative appraisals either not engaged or actively disengaged. Meanwhile, surprisingly, half of those who receive a positive appraisal,49.5%, are not engaged or actively disengaged.

It seems feedback from employee performance reviews, regardless what it is, is far from welcome anymore.

A Different Style – Radical Transparency

Of course, feedback is essential if employees are to develop, and help them to identify points of weakness that could otherwise leave them and the company vulnerable to mistakes and failure.

Now, experts are point to a different style of review to bridge the gap. Known as Radical Transparency, the new method is conversation-based instead of the traditional interview employees are required to undergo.

It’s a new culture, where employees embrace continuous direct feedback about their performance, even it if it critical. ‘Annual’ no longer figures in the process: it could be as frequent as weekly. Its effectiveness depends on having frequent conversations directly with employees.

How It Works

The key is that managers are truthful and comprehensive, not sweetening the pill if it’s bad or avoiding praising employees even if it’s deserved. But at the same time, criticism should be delivered in a constructive manner.

  • Start With The Positives – discuss recent successes. Get employees to share their thoughts and reflect on their input, then share your viewpoint. This will boost employee confidence, while also helping them identify what led to their success.
  • Be Specific – whether discussing successes or failures, being specific in the conversation allows employees to learn and therefore improve their performance in the future.
  • Encourage – it’s natural that some employees will need correction, but their mistakes can be a learning curve. Remember, employees might not know anything went wrong, never mind what went wrong, so encouraging them to overcome errors is essential.
  • Be Frequent – meaningful conversations should be at least weekly. It’s not just because it means everyone stays on top of things, it means that a meaningful relationship can develop where ideas, observations and concerns can be shared. It’s in this environment that a transparent working relationship can flourish through open dialogue, reflection and evaluation. is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service solution.

About the Author

AnnualLeave is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service app. For more information you can get in touch with one of our team via our online form or email at

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