Employee Review process broken? Is your organization guilty of doing these things wrong?

Posted by Julie • August 27, 2015 (Last modified June 6, 2022) • 3 min read

It can be a challenge to get an organization to accomplish anything on time – including performance appraisals.  If your organization is guilty of one or more of the things on this list, consider changing the game.


  1. Your people aren’t trained on how to do an appraisal. The last time you went through expectations and timelines for appraisals, it was 2009.  No one remembers what do, or when, or where to log in. Maybe it’s time to do a fresh training. Go through your forms, explain the different parts, and explain what’s expected and when.
  2. Your forms are too long. You’ve got 60 competencies on your appraisal form. (But, our people *should* be good at each of these 60 competencies!) We set high expectations! Perhaps. But when a form is too long, people will put the task off until they have a large block of time, which is never. Shorten up your forms – cap the number of competencies at ten. Better yet? Reduce your form to five competencies or less. Not sure which ones to pick? Here’s a list of the most popular ones. Then, ask a narrative question or two, and have managers provide some meaningful comments.
  3. You require waaaaay too many approvals. Once the appraisal is done, it’s supposed to be approved by the manager’s manager, the manager’s manager’s manager, back to HR, up to the CEO, around the fence, over the hill, to your great uncle, and finally, to the employee. With all that travel, someone’s bound to hold things up.  Keep the list of approvers short.
  4. You give people too much time to finish. You want employees to have a month to do their self-appraisal, then a month for the managers to complete their portion, and a few weeks for the approvers…whoa, has a year gone by already? Keep the appraisal window to a total of 30 days or less.  It’s like a marathon. Slow down and stop, and you might not get going again.
  5. Your communication is spotty, at best. You haven’t sent our a comprehensive email detailing timelines and expectations, or you sent it last year. Or, you’ve only sent one email. Sending multiple reminders doesn’t mean treating them as children, it respects the busy people you know they are. People need multiple reminders. Help a guy out, will ya?
  6. You think the software will manage itself. You’ve customized our email reminders online. Check. You’ve built simple forms? Check. Now, HR can put their feet up on this chair and zzzzzz…. No software manages itself, no matter how carefully configured. There’s no such thing as auto-pilot. Get involved, watch the incoming returns, then reach out and help stragglers.
  7. Your process has too much customization, too many rules. At your company, managers do A, then B, but only if XYZ comes first, otherwise, employees do D, but they only have 14 days to do that after the full moon on the third Tuesday.  Maybe it’s always been done that way, and maybe it’s time to make it easier. Employee, manager, approver, done. Reduce the complexity.
  8. Your email reminders are stale. No one reads them. “Please complete your appraisal. It is due by December 31st.” Your email reminders aren’t personalized, and they use words you don’t use at your company (i.e. The emails say “appraisals”, but your organization call them “reviews.”) Freshen up your email reminders. Customize them with your company information and your due dates.  Make sure you have enough reminders, too.  One delinquent notice may go unnoticed. One per day or per week until it’s done?  Your people will get them done just to make the reminders stop!
  9. There are hundreds of checkboxes to mark. You have just a few competencies on your form, but a lot of checkboxes under each one (sub-competencies!) See #2, your forms are too long. Once you’ve selected a competency, a single rating will do.


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