5 Tips For Eliminating Annual Performance Reviews

We’ve all been there; that dreaded calendar invite from your manager for your annual performance review. For millions of employees worldwide, this does nothing but create a great deal of anxiety and…

We’ve all been there; that dreaded calendar invite from your manager for your annual performance review. For millions of employees worldwide, this does nothing but create a great deal of anxiety and fear of the future that could be avoided. For employees, annual performance reviews can make them feel like they are on trial, awaiting the verdict of their pay raise, promotion, or, at worst if they are continuing their employment.

Far too often, these reviews are one-sided, only offering the opportunity for the manager or employer to present their perspective and point of view. Seldom do employees have the chance to paint the whole picture to include their impact instead of a hyper-focused discussion based on performance alone. 

Employee engagement, employee performance, and employee wellbeing are not mutually exclusive. All three components are essential for a productive and nurturing workplace. Yet, in today’s “hustle culture,” engagement and wellbeing have been left out entirely by some of the world’s leading organizations. While performance is vital — as you are exchanging compensation for expected performance – engagement and wellbeing are the catalysts that drive exemplary performance. When you solely focus on performance, you fail as a manager and employer. 

annual performance reviews

Clayton Christensen, the infamous American Economist, and Harvard Business School Professor, put it beautifully, Management is the most noble of professions if its practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.” 

One thing to note here is the emphasis on a team. In any sport, a team must work together as a unit to achieve success. While there are individual performances, those individual successes do not win championships alone. On the other hand, individual shortcomings can be a result of multiple factors. Is it a coaching issue? Injury? Tragedy? Burnout? There are countless reasons why an athlete underperforms. However, a team, coach, and manager rally to offer support, diagnose the issue, explore options and communicate before jumping to trade the underperforming player. 

Apply that logic to your team. Do you maintain the train of thought only to hold annual performance reviews to address issues in performance or diagnose underlying issues? Ironically, annual performance reviews typically involve the manager evaluating the employee’s ability to be a team player, yet the essence of annual performance reviews has managers doing the complete opposite. 

Holding annual performance reviews exclusively breeds nothing but anxiety and contempt for employees, especially in 2022. We are entering a new generation of empowered workers, which has millions running towards the gig economy as opposed to the traditional 9-5. It is estimated that by 2027, 50% of all workers will be involved in the gig economy and freelance workspaces. On the other hand, CEOs rank “finding and retaining talent” as a top priority for their businesses—a dichotomy of paths that employers must work to resolve.

Why are workers flocking to the gig economy? How can managers and employers retain their talent before they make a swift exit? Let’s take a quick look at the data: 

67% of workers experience burnout at work

It would be safe to assume that the majority of your employees are experiencing burnout. 67% is no small number. Is that due to workload? Personal issues? Finances? Holding a review once a year and not creating a platform for employees to feel heard misses out on an excellent opportunity to diagnose burnout before it happens.

Fewer than 3 out of 10 employees feel motivated by their manager

70% of an average team is feeling unmotivated. Many factors contribute to this feeling. External factors such as world issues, home issues, health issues are possible ones, as well as internal problems such as a disconnect with the company mission, conflict with co-workers, or the lack of recognition from a manager.

As the old saying goes, employees leave managers, not companies. A frequent and consistent one-on-one meeting is an effective way to ascertain an employee’s motivation as well as to find ways to help improve it.

57% of employees are not motivated by a company’s mission 

Every company has an inspiring reason for existing. The founder(s) saw a problem in the world and when to work to fix it. That feeling of optimism that an impact could be had on the world is the motivation they used to create something out of nothing.

Work is hard. Unfortunately, many companies have a tough time expressing their company mission in an inviting and inspiring way. Employees want to know their work matters. Helping them feel connected to something bigger than themselves is a crucial ingredient to high employee engagement.

Only 34% of employees are engaged at work

What does an engaged employee look like? Are they engaged in being a team player, about their work, and why they are doing it? One thing that slips between the cracks for far too many managers is the ‘why.’ Why do you do what you do? Why do you enjoy what you do? Why are you happy? Why are you unhappy? By focusing on the ‘why,’ managers can accurately diagnose the reasons behind employee engagement and make adjustments accordingly. 

As we’ve seen through the data, the corporate landscape is dwindling at a rapid rate, and workers are turning to self-employment and the gig economy, making top-tier talent harder to find and retain. Interestingly enough, something as seemingly minor as annual performance reviews can be a game-changer in improving employee satisfaction and retention. 

Here are 5 Tips to eliminate Annual Performance Reviews and implement a more productive communication and evaluation system. 

annual performance reviews

Tip 1: Have an Inspired Vision for the Future

Why do we do the things we do? Why did we major in a certain niche? Why are we passionate about aspirations? Simply put, we became inspired at some point, whether it be someone of influence who sparked that flame, a word of encouragement, or anything in between — we all became inspired to pursue our path to reach the vision we have created for our future. 

This concept is essential for employee performance, engagement, and wellbeing. By implementing a clear, concise, and realistic vision, employees can find passion and purpose in their day-to-day work and follow a roadmap to get there. While one might not think this has a massive impact on employee retention, 90% of all workers admit that they would trade some of their lifetime earnings for meaningful work. Furthermore, company’s with engaged workers are 21% more profitable than those without engaged workers. Implementing a vision for the future with employees can help ensure they remain engaged. 

Tip 2: Connect Each Employee’s Work to an Impactful Vision of the Future

Once you have established a vision and actionable trajectory for the company, it is crucial to intertwine the nuances of that vision with each employee’s work. Expressing this visually makes a world of difference in communicating the importance of each employee and how the work they do impacts the company on a larger scale. 

We suggest creating a process that waterfalls the company’s objectives with every department, team, and employee objectives. A waterfall chart outlines each goal, the “why” behind each one, and the key results to be achieved. In doing this, you create a sense of camaraderie, but you also clearly outline expectations, performance, and purpose. Managers can align their teams around a clear vision for the future. 

annual performance reviews

Tip 3: 20 Minutes, 52 Weeks, 17 Hours

How do you truly eliminate the annual performance review from your workplace? Answer = Continuous Performance Feedback. Instead of one, 1-hour meeting once a year, intentionally set aside 20 minutes for each employee every single week – which becomes 17 hours total over the entire year. 

These meetings only work if implemented correctly. Our pro tips include:

  • Meetings should be at the same time each week and only skip or reschedule for emergencies
  • Both parties should be prepared beforehand to cover the highest impact agenda items 
  • A wrapup report should be sent post-meeting to ensure a common consensus was made
  • Managers must read the room – adjust each meeting according to the needs of the employee
  • Progress reports should be given on top projects
  • Managers should gauge employee confidence in their given tasks
  • Identify any roadblocks
  • Assess the “skill and will” and assess the “performance and potential” of each employee. 

Not sure what that all means? Take a look at our blog on the Top 10 Tips for a Productive One-on-One Meeting https://blaast.com/2022/01/25/20-minutes-52-weeks-17-hours-invest-in-employees/

Tip 4: Manager to Coach — Coach the Whole Person

Employees are human. They have their personal lives, outside stresses, families, friends, goals, and priorities outside of the workplace — and those need to be considered when helping and providing resources for the employee to succeed in a work environment. 

Wellbeing is a multi-faceted topic. Workplace wellbeing should be a top priority.

How are they doing physically? 



Do they feel a sense of belonging and community? 

Do they have a strong sense of purpose?

Remember that you manage an entire person — not just the work tasks and performance.

Tip 5: What Games Can Teach Us About Rewards and Recognition

Employees thrive when praised and recognized. Managers have an excellent opportunity to boost morale, increase employee retention, and heighten a sense of camaraderie. 

Studies show the most engaged workplaces recognize their employees every ten days or less.

Having a clear, engaging, and fun reward and recognition program is key to helping employees stay motivated to not only meet in the one-on-one setting but look forward to it.     


While monetary prizes and salaries are a leading factor in employee satisfaction, they are not all that matters in maintaining a happy and healthy workplace. As employers and managers, there is a world of opportunity through game theory to cultivate an environment where employees enjoy their work, provide high-quality work products, and genuinely enjoy their place of work.

Not sure where to start? Read our blog on 6 Things We Learn From Games About Rewards and Recognizing Our Employees 

Implementing these tips can effectively eliminate the dreaded annual performance review, boost morale and cultivate a thriving and nurturing workplace that employees enjoy. 

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