How often should we do reviews?

Immediately after an organization decides to do performance reviews, the first thing they ask is: how often should we do them? There is very real tension between providing enough feedback to the employees, and making painful busy work for the management team. Fortunately there is a good compromise that many people choose.

I recommend that you do performance reviews on a twice-a-year cycle that includes a comprehensive annual review with a mid-year “checkup” review. This approach has several important advantages:

I recommend that you do performance reviews on a twice-a-year cycle
  • Employees get feedback more than once a year, which is a real benefit. Most managers simply never give enough feedback, and this kind of system forces it to happen.
  • The burden on the team to go through the process is lessened by the lighter weight mid-year reviews.
  • You can offer pay increases and other rewards more than once a year. (I firmly believe in tying pay changes to the performance review.)
  • Practice makes perfect – if you only do reviews once a year, people get out of practice. By doing them more frequently, managers get better at delivering both good and bad messages, and employees get used to getting feedback.

Reviews don’t have to be that hard. If you would like to see examples of what I think performance reviews should look like, see the performance review whitepaper elsewhere on the site.