I remember the feeling—the sleepless night beforehand, the nervousness in the pit of my stomach.

I was waiting for the results of my annual performance review.

Performance reviews—most often yearly—are how many companies provide feedback to their employees. They often involve a numeric rating and maybe an hour or so of conversation about what’s gone right throughout the past year and what could use improvement.

There are a few flaws in the system:

  • It’s hard to remember what you did (or didn’t do) in a whole year.
  • Getting a “rating” can derail what could have been a thoughtful conversation.
  • No matter how much positive feedback you get, it’s easy to key in on the negative.
  • It’s generally information you could have used a lot sooner.

Lately, there’s been a bit of a quiet revolution going on in the world of evaluating employee performance. A variety of innovative companies are reformulating the standard review, while others are ditching it altogether.

Our real-time culture—including the rise of social media–could be a big part of the reason. Here’s Accenture chief executive Pierre Nanterme in the Washington Post:

“If you put this new generation in the box of the performance management we’ve used the last 30 years, you lose them. People want to know on an ongoing basis, ‘Am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing?’ Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback.”

In fact, a recent study found that the No. 1 thing Millennials want from work is more opportunities to learn and develop:


At Buffer, we skip the annual performance review. We’ve found ongoing, weekly feedback to be the best path toward continuous improvement—plus, you get to skip the nervous stomachache!

It took us some time to figure out how to structure our coaching and feedback processes, and they’re likely to change again! But we wanted to share how we do things now in case its helpful for others.

Our core coaching unit: One-on-ones

Early on at Buffer, we began one-on-one sessions between every teammate and their team lead at least every 2 weeks.

We’ve had many different iterations of the structure of these sessions. Generally they last about an hour and include time for achievements, challenges, and feedback from the team lead to the teammate.

Most often, they look like a team lead asking a simple question like “How is it going this week?” and the teammate taking the session anywhere they like.

I’m lucky enough to have my one-on-ones with Leo, who has coached me on everything from role-based stuff like press and public relations to general life stuff like polite persistence and confidence. It’s a special relationship, and one that I know has challenged me to grow immensely.

For the team member, not the team lead

One element of our one-on-ones that might feel a bit different than most types of feedback sessions is that they are almost completely driven by the teammate, with very little time for the team lead to be “in control.”

Ben Horowitz wrote a great article entitled One on One that sums up the impetus behind this:

“The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting.”

When the majority of the time is dedicated to the team member, and it is up to them to set the agenda, it becomes very empowering.

For instance, I’m aware that I’m going to chat every Wednesday with Leo and that it’s up to me to come up with something to talk about. Because of this, I jot notes throughout the week about things I want to celebrate, things I’d love advice about and issues I think might need a focused discussion.

This tends to surface topics, thoughts and ideas that might have gone unnoticed and forgotten otherwise. It also helps me stay accountable to making progress throughout the week so I always have something new to share!

I always leave one-on-ones feeling energized and supported. I asked Leo for a few tips on how he makes sure our one-on-ones are always great:

A constant work in progress

Once you get into the groove of doing one-on-ones consistently for a while, there’s a trust and momentum that builds, and it feels like it moves the whole team into a whole new gear.

For teammates, it’s an open-ended way to work through challenges, get advice and brainstorm together. For team leaders, it’s a great way to get signals about what’s working well and what could use some extra thought in terms of workflows and structure.

But we’re always working on ways to make this process even more fulfilling for both parties. Here’s a look at a survey we recently sent out about one-on-ones:

1-1s improving

Recently, this great article about better one-on-ones has been going around our virtual office and inspiring us. If we make changes to our system, we’ll be sure to share it with you!

A bonus personal growth machine: Masterminds

In addition to one-on-ones, teammates have another option to pair up, celebrate achievements and work through challenges with peers. We call these sessions “masterminds,” and they go way back to our startup’s beginnings.

In the very early days, Buffer co-founders Joel and Leo would spend their Friday nights at Samovar in San Francisco, drinking tea and having what they call “the most productive hours” of their week in a mastermind chat.

These sessions continue virtually today, no matter where they are in the world. Leo shared that his and Joel’s masterminds can take anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours! Here’s what they discuss:

We’ve had many different iterations of the structure of our mastermind sessions, and they’re still evolving today. Some teammates use this structure today:

  • 20 minutes to share and celebrate your achievements (1o minutes each)
  • 40 minutes to discuss your current top challenges (20 minutes each)

Both of these sections serve a different purpose, and together they combine to create a very productive session.

I’m lucky enough to mastermind with Buffer’s blogger extraordinaire, Kevan, and I get so much out of our time together. It’s a space to be deeply vulnerable—it’s almost like weekly therapy!

We follow the general format above and have also invented a few of our own rules:

  • There’s no such thing as a small achievement! (we kept calling them small until we created this rule)
  • No validating one another. (In other words, if I say “I think I could have done better on this,” Kevan can’t say “No, you’re great!” Instead, he will stick with questions as to why I think I need to improve and how I’ll get there.)

Peer-to-peer, personal and professional

Not all teammates choose to participate in masterminds—they’re optional.

During our experiment with self-management, we dropped one-on-ones totally and encouraged everyone to do masterminds instead. Now we’ve realized that mentorship is super valuable and returned to one-on-ones, but some of us continue to find value in masterminds as well.

The peer-to-peer nature means we can share challenges and experiences with others going through a similar journey.

Ideally, they work best with someone whose work is at least somewhat similar to yours, so you can share the most overlap in challenges and achievements.

Anything goes in these sessions—both professional and personal discussions are common.

One of the unique values in the culture at Buffer is to “Have a focus on self-improvement”, and this means talking about personal improvements is encouraged—for example, improving your sleep, learning a new language, trying new forms of exercise, or writing more frequently.

What’s the difference?

The key difference between masterminds & one-on-ones is the relationship: Masterminds are peer-to-peer while one-on-ones are a mentor/mentee relationship.

For some people, one-on-ones fulfill most of their needs for working through challenges. In that case, it feels great to stick with just that.

For new teammates, we encourage them to explore masterminds if they feel drawn to it, but also be very reflective on what they contribute. If the mastermind doesn’t quite feel high value, then they’re encouraged to feel free to rather focus on one-on-ones instead.

Again, I asked Leo to share his thoughts on the key difference between the two:

The key to both: Listening, not solving

During both of these kinds of sessions, there’s one key rule we try to live by: Listen closely and ask questions, but don’t try to solve others’ problems.

The aim is to help the other person to think about the challenge differently and come up with their own solution.

We may ask questions and perhaps share thoughts or similar experiences, but we try stop short of solving.

It can be really hard to hold back! Buffer is a pretty empathetic team, and we all want to help. But we’ve learned that through asking questions, you often find that your own idea wasn’t quite the right solution.

Plus, it is a hundred times more motivating for the other person to come away knowing that they came up with the solution themselves. Galileo explained perfectly why we try to approach it in this way:

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.”

Do you have performance reviews at your company, or a different kind of process for feedback?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Written by Courtney Seiter

Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.

  • Vignesh Subramanyan

    Thanks for sharing Courtney! One of the things that attracted me to the Buffer blog (and Buffer in general) is the focus on transparency and personal growth. It’s great to read how you approach those values as a team.

    My company uses the traditional annual review system, which definitely leaves room for additional feedback. However, while speaking to a mentor who works in a larger, more traditional organization I learned that you aren’t necessarily restricted to an annual review per se.

    His approach (as a manager) is to have frequent one-on-ones that allow for active communication from both sides. And the annual review is then used as an opportunity to get a “snapshot” of the whole year. It’s not exactly the same as Buffer’s one-on-one’s but still an interesting workaround to the traditional model :).

    • http://www.GetLighthouse.com/ Jason Evanish, Founder Get Lig

      While some companies are ditching reviews entirely for one on ones, you can have both; in fact, they’re very complimentary.

      One on ones are a regular conversation on a variety of topics, including feedback and performance. Over time, you should be making progress between one on ones on various issues, ideas, and goals.

      That progress is then exactly what you can look back on to have a much more effective performance review. By looking at all your one on one notes the manager should be taking, the review now can really recall what’s happened throughout the year.

      This makes the review less of a surprise. It’s more of a summary of the good and bad of your one on ones, while reflecting over a longer time span than since the last one on one.

      Then, it comes full circle as the takeaways from the performance review become some of the key ongoing talking points for one on ones going forward.

      If you’re interested in more on performance review approaches, this is a really comprehensive look at them: https://getlighthouse.com/blog/performance-review-how-approach-improve-replace/


    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Really like these thoughts, Vignesh; thank you so much for sharing them! Your mentor sounds really smart; I think it’s an awesome idea to ask for additional feedback on a regular basis. We’ve experimented with that a bit here and found that standardized questions can help make this process fast and a bit less awkward. I thought these were a good starting place: http://www.levo.com/articles/career-advice/5-ways-to-ask-for-feedback

  • Yolcu

    I honestly think that this is the way it should be. If I would be receiving weekly feedback on my work, I would be way more happier and would have much more direct guidance instead of thoughts and assumptions.

    Wow, really nice!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Thanks for checking this one out, Yolcu! If you decide to ask for feedback more regularly, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      • Yolcu

        I’ve noted that on my Wunderlist and will let you know of the outcome.

        Thank you very much Courtney :)

  • http://www.couch2competitor.tumblr.com HarmsWayChad

    Super awesome read! I think more businesses should adopt something very similar. I do recall when it was my time for a performance review. How can you measure a whole year of activity into one meeting.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Yeah, that’s a tough one! I think it for some might feel like a big initial time commitment to do one-on-ones so frequently, but in my mind it’s time very well spent!

  • Brendan Moore

    This feels a lot like the mindset we have at my employer, though I like two parts of your implementation:
    – More structured schedule, encouraging weekly discussions (ours is more as hoc, and probably closer to monthly or bimonthly)
    – Explicit allowance for a two-way conversation where the “Junior” takes the lead. This can ensure they get to ask the real questions that might be holding them back.

    The effort to guide a mentee to find the solution themself is really something I embrace. I love to teach people cool new tricks, but as tools, not necessarily specific solutions. When helping them solve problems, it is absolutely more rewarding to use careful questions to allow them the opportunity of discovery. Both people can walk away feeling good, instead of possibly leaving the mentee feeling like they failed and had to call out for a rescue line.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Feels like you’ve got a great flow going, Brendan! Yes, the Socratic method can be tough but it’s oh-so-rewarding!

      • Brendan Moore

        Hi Courtney, I thought of a related question after digesting what’s great about this approach for a while.

        Without formal “performance reviews” when and how is a Team Members’ Experience Factor for the salary formula reevaluated? Usually this kind of thing would be one part of a review. How does Buffer handle this topic, and make it OK for a team member to bring up when they feel they have improved considerably in skill?

        Thanks, and enjoy Hawaii!

  • http://www.mr-stingy.com Aaron Tang

    Reading about Buffer practices is always fascinating Courtney. Even if I never make it to Buffer one day, you can be sure I’ll be implementing Buffer practices wherever I’m working!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Oh wow, that’s an incredible thing to hear, Aaron! What an honor.

  • Frederik Denkens

    Interesting. We are a team of 6 and growing. As leader I noticed it becomes more and more intense as the team grows. Recently we switched from weekly to biweekly to monthly 1-1’s with team-members. Only for new hires do I still keep them weekly/bi-weekly for a while.

    There is a question I’m facing as we evolve more and more towards a self-organising/Teal company _without_ formal management: who will be the mentor you mention? And are 1-1’s maintainable without a formal company hierarchy?

    In my opinion a team-leader (the defacto mentor in your post if I understand correctly) implies formal hierarchy which is something I want to keep out. So is a 1-1 then even possible in a networked hierarchy?

    I can believe by having a completely open and honest culture revolving about direct feedback by anybody, not having 1-1’s might work. But we’re still a long way off.

    What is your view on this?

  • http://skyscrape.rs/ Frederik Denkens

    Interesting. We are a team of 6 and growing. As leader I noticed it becomes more and more intense as the team grows. Recently we switched from weekly to biweekly to monthly 1-1’s with team-members. Only for new hires do I still keep them weekly/bi-weekly for a while.

    There is a question I’m facing as we evolve more and more towards a self-organising/Teal company _without_ formal management: who will be the mentor you mention? And are 1-1’s maintainable without a formal company hierarchy?

    In my opinion a team-leader (the defacto mentor in your post if I understand correctly) implies formal hierarchy which is something I want to keep out. So is a 1-1 then even possible in a networked hierarchy?

    I can believe by having a completely open and honest culture revolving about direct feedback by anybody, not having 1-1’s might work. But we’re still a long way off.

    What is your view on this?

    • http://www.GetLighthouse.com/ Jason Evanish, Founder Get Lig


      As both someone building a product dedicated to this problem and an observer of Buffer’s journey where they paid dearly for eliminating one ones, I’d give great caution to eliminating them.

      Buffer lost at least one key employee and as the refer above (and have deeper posts on it), they missed something by not having them.

      The fact is, people are not going to come to you with problems and challenges as much as you hope. They need a private outlet and managers have to *ask* often to find out about them. Otherwise, you’ll find out about problems too late (see this great post from investor Jason Lemkin as an example: http://www.saastr.com/by-the-time-you-give-them-a-raise-theyre-already-out-the-door/)

      As your team grows, the complexity in your organization will increase, meaning that more effort will be needed to communicate. Not everyone will know what everyone is up to and there’s more people to physically talk to. These two posts are great starting points for you to understand what you’ll face as your company continues to grow:


      I’d encourage you also to consider: why do you want a flat organization? The motives behind it may not be in conflict with a minimal amount of hierarchy. Just look at stories like Buffer and Wistia who both abandoned flat orgs as they grew because it was better for their people to have some structure.

      Hope this helps. I eat, sleep, and breath this every day looking at research and talking to companies at all stages and see a lot of patterns that repeat themselves.


      • http://skyscrape.rs/ Frederik Denkens


        Thanks for your extensive feedback and pointers.

        We are indeed very careful. That is also why we haven’t just yet stopped doing them. Mentorship and having a private outlet are essental.

        I should have been more clear: we are bringing structure into our org. It is just not a typical top-down model with people who have more ‘power’ than other people. It is rather very much like the model of roles and circles in Holacracy. Tbh, we are still in the process of figuring things out and refining it.

        In my most recent thinking I’m going in the direction of having mentor roles. These mentors would be in no position of power vs the people they coach.

        Anyway, still lot’s of stuff to figure out as we grow. It keeps life interesting :-)

        • http://www.GetLighthouse.com/ Jason Evanish, Founder Get Lig


          Cool to hear how intentional you’re being.

          I think one of the big misnomers of hierarchy is the power structure. Managers get a bad rap. True leadership is *servant* leadership, which means no bossing people around and hoarding power. Instead, it is about enabling and helping maximize your team’s abilities.

          If it’s your company, you have the power to set the expectation for what it means to be a leader, what is rewarded and recognized, and who you promote to those roles. Something to consider for any structure you chose to implement. Be intentional about that just as much as the structure itself.


    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Great question, Frederik! When we were at our most “self organized/Teal” and hierarchy free, we totally dropped mentorship and one-on-ones. We later determined that wasn’t the right solution for us and have since returned to a more hierarchical structure. This many not be the right solution for everyone at all! We were not quite able to build accountability and coaching into the Teal path, but there are likely some things we missed. The idea of the CLOU in this post might be helpful to you: https://open.buffer.com/self-management-circle/

  • http://www.twenteasomething.com/ Laura M George

    I really benefit from regurlar one-to-ones and think they’re really important for growth.

    In my first role post university I really craved one-to-ones and reviews, I even regularly asked for my 3 month review (I did get it.. after 12 months!). I will admit, due to some HR changes they are seeing changes in that system.

    I joined a new company in September and we have an ongoing personal vision statement to work towards with SMART goals for the months and year. I also have monthly one-to-ones with my manager which are really helpful to talk about achievements and challenges of the month and put strategies in place. As a team we’re pretty open though so it’s not as if I need to save things up specifically for this month. It’s also really helpful to have overarching goals to work towards and have the opportunity to regularly check my progress.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Sounds like a great setup, Laura! So inspired by your craving for feedback; I’m working to get there!

  • https://franciskim.co Francis Kim

    Buffer sounds like a great place to work at.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      I think so. :) We’re always working on making it better, which helps a lot.

  • http://www.GetLighthouse.com/ Jason Evanish, Founder Get Lig

    Hi Courtney,

    It’s really interesting to hear you’ve completely done away with performance reviews. How do you handle compensation discussions for promotions and role changes? Is that more ad hoc? Traditionally, that’s a big reason reviews existed at big companies (ie – do all promotions and raises at a set time).

    I’m also curious if you have considered updating your post on 1 on 1s? (https://blog.bufferapp.com/a-simple-guide-to-better-coaching-and-feedback-in-your-company)
    – Your post is dramatically different than what Ben Horowitz writes about in the post you shared and what is talked about in the link to the Lighthouse blog post on one on ones you linked above (https://getlighthouse.com/blog/10-10-10-rule-for-one-on-ones/). It might be interesting to see an addendum on the original post contrasting what has changed.

    I know you generally like to do your own experiments at Buffer, and if you’re curious what research and best practices says about one on ones to apply to your experiments, you may find this really insightful on one on ones and how others approach them: https://getlighthouse.com/blog/everything-know-about-one-on-ones/


    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Hey Jason! Great questions; yup, I think this post might serve as our new post of record on one-on-ones. The one you reference there is a bit older, though it still has a lot of great insights.

      Promotions and role changes is a big topic that I’d love to share more on in the future. We haven’t been great about an explicit method and path for these type discussions in the past and we’re working on improving this area as we speak! Would love to share it all.

  • http://www.capradiomusic.org Melody G. Stone

    I really hope more companies move this direction.

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Aw, thanks so much, Melody! There’s a lot we’re still figuring out but this method seems to be working thus far.

  • felicia.cristofaro


    As a Millennial, I can definitely confirm that more opportunities to learn and
    develop are very high on my priority list from a workplace! Ongoing feedback is
    a great way to satisfy this need. I value many relationships that have developed from workplace one-on-ones. You’re right; they often turn out to be very special connections, where you’re challenged both at work and as a person.

    Another aspect of one-on-ones I enjoy is that they allow for feedback to go both ways. There will always be areas where both a team member and a team lead can improve. Keeping the conversation open in both directions will result in a healthy, honest, and trusting relationship!

    The concept of “mastermind” is new to me. I love the idea of it! Like you said, it sounds like the best kind of weekly therapy. Again, honesty is the best policy for these types of meetings. My current employer tries to encourage monthly one-on-ones between supervisor and employees. However they often feel forced, not at all voluntary. You’d be amazed at how that can limit the success of the meetings. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://courtneyseiter.com/ Courtney Seiter

      Such great observations, Felicia! We have an upcoming post that touches on just this topic; how to dig deeper in your one-on-ones (and even in your personal relationships). Can’t wait for you to read it!

  • http://www.melissapazen.net/ Melissa Pazen

    Thanks so much, Courtney, for posting this; the more I read about Buffer, the more I admire the company you all are building!

    As an employee in a small and highly informal company, I don’t have regular 1:1’s with the managing partner. I have the freedom to go to her at any time, however, and I use the time as wisely as I can. I keep a list of items I want to discuss with her between meetings (in my old days of performance reviews, I kept an accomplishments file throughout the year, filling it with ‘wins’ as they happened) and perhaps these items are important but not urgent. When I come upon something urgent, or when I have five items in my file, I ask for time. It may be immediate or it may be scheduled within one business day.

    My format for these meetings puts anything urgent right up front. Then I try to keep an agenda format of “what I have been working on”, “what’s gone well”, “what hasn’t gone well”, “what needs to be done about things that aren’t going well”, “what new items can/could/should we add to my talk list”.

    I may be the only one (of the six of us at the company where I work) who follows this, but is sure does work for me! That next to last item, “what needs to be done about things that aren’t going well”, has been the most important one to me. It’s where I ask for help or where we drop something that seemed to be important but wasn’t or where we rethink the approach.

    Of course, this type of meeting requires honesty and transparency. Fortunately, I became aware of Brené Brown’s work in 2012. My philosophy aligns with hers, in that, I’m willing to be vulnerable and transparent. And that means I must work for an employer who embraces that philosophy as well.

    Warm regards,


  • Andrea Pacini

    Hi Courtney. In the company I work for we have both weekly one-on-ones and yearly performance reviews. I’m not a big fan of the big review each year, but I do find great value in one-on-ones. My takeaway of your article is that listening is key, not solving. I had never looked at one-on-ones from this perspective so far. Thank you

  • Sylvia

    Great tips! Thank you guys, I’ve been doing informal 1:1s but I would love to incorporate: let the mentee set the meeting, celebrate (nothing is “small”), no validating but encourage what we can improve, and listen first and not solve!

  • Gary Willmott

    Hey Courtney, Wow, wow, wow!!! This a brilliant.

    We ended up doing peer reviews, but in a different form.
    Here’s our story below with a few questions at the end.

    Being a managing partner in a small company, directing really smart technical and creative people, I had to learn very quickly to love and hate HR (Human Resources)

    I actually remember saying I never want to grow a company, where we actually need a HR person, even the name Human Resources sucks, it makes people sound like a commodity.

    Two years ago, we landed some great clients and we were forced to grow the company really quickly, with additional staff recruitments. I was out my depth and called on some help from a great strategic HR consultant (Gwynedd).

    I remember the first few months thinking how on earth did we get this far without HR help. Gwynedd was a breath of fresh air, from getting employment contracts cleaned up, to regular performance reviews, assisting us with promoting, firing and hiring.

    Not only the practical elements, but the emotional help of dealing with people, being the sounding board to ensure that every decision we made was a fair, unemotional, unbiased decision for the future growth of the company and ultimately that person. After a while, I realised as much as I was enjoying being involved in HR, it took A LOT of my time, around 1–2 days a week. However the company needed my time for strategic and new business efforts, which were putting strain on the company.

    As much as we all loved a flat structure, it was doing more harm than good, even when we were only around 20 staff members. To overcome this, we had to implement some company processes, frameworks and the mighty organogram. One of the best processes we implemented was ongoing, anonymous 360 peer reviews. It gave the staff the opportunity to have their say within the company and it also helped us, as management, identify what was and was not working within the company.

    We discovered the traditional HR Peer review process was really broken and laborious so we decided to create our own methodology based on the 5s principle:

    – Each person should get 5 Goals (KPIS)
    – Each person should get reviewed and review at least 5 people (anonymously)
    – Reviews should happen 5 times a year.
    – Reviews shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.
    – Each person should be able to give 5 praises (Hi Fives) a year.

    This worked extremely well for us, so we decided to develop this into a SaaS solution and release it for friends in other companies.

    We called it Hi5, for obvious reasons, here’s the link for more info

    – Do you enforce the one-on-ones? Is it a compulsory requirement within Buffer?
    – During these sessions do you track and record data or is it purely conversation?

  • Michael Jenkins

    I can not say that I have ever worked for a company that had one-on-ones. As different as this sounds it really is an amazing idea. I truly believe that the employee and employer will benefit significantly in this practice. I love the idea in that if an issue arises that may seem small it can be addressed and not turn into a major issue in the future. Plus the bonding you receive. This is something I would really enjoy having. I tend to always like to make sure I am on the right path. The fact that you set it up so the employee comes to a solution I think is brilliant. Sometimes just having someone listen and ask the right questions will help you figure out a solution. Keep up the great work Buffer!

  • pj882

    So glad to see you guys working on updating that outdated ritual of annual reviews! It might’ve worked in the past, but things change. People change. Attitudes change. A law that was made in 1816 may not be applicable in 2016.

    At one job I had, the annual reviews were often not actually given until April or May, due to the reviews having to get approved up the hierarchy; God forbid a manager wrote a favorable review for a good employee that resulted in that employee deserving of a raise/promotion… no, the higher-ups had to nitpick the reviews and find ways to knock down the employee’s score.

    The nearly half a year it took to provide the annual review is now wasted; the employee is still going to be graded on that 1st half of the year on next year’s annual review, but without being given the chance to improve at all.

    And that’s probably not even the worst of it: the reviews were not critical at all and mainly listed the generic good qualities of employees (e.g. good worker, on time to work, etc). I can recall getting reviews that listed all of my positive traits, but with a score that did not match. I would ask my supervisor/manager for some constructive criticism and they could never provide any, besides any typical responses such as “spend less time talking and more time working”… could we give specific examples or are we just generalizing what makes a bad employee?

    I need to find a job that has modern values and practices.

  • http://www.wirl.ca Pall Musaev

    Hi Courtney,

    I meant to write you earlier, when this article came out. It’s fantastic insight with great suggestions on what could work. Thank you for sharing.

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard of us or not, http://www.wirl.ca, but our platform supports continuous feedback within organizations. As a thought leader and well spoken person, I would love to get your feedback on our software.

    I’m sorry to use your comments as the way to connect, I did send out a connection request on LinkedIn.

    Hope to hear back from you.


  • LeeAndra Fouts

    I am so anti-performance reviews after a terrible experience I had. After asking for a review for 6+ months, I finally got one from my manager after I had been there almost 16 months. My review was incredibly positive and my manager told me directly that I was the best writer and worker they had which is why I had been asked to handle/organize some special side projects, etc.

    No less than 6 weeks later, another writer & I were abruptly let go due to financial troubles. I had pointedly asked during my review if the company (which was a 4 year old startup) was dealing with financial issues and if there was any possibility that anyone would be let go or have their hours cut (after a rumor had gone around the previous year). He assured me the company had regained its footing, and I didn’t need to worry.

    They kept one writer on staff for another year (before they closed down entirely), and the only reason was because he had the most seniority (4 months more than me) out of everyone. My manager had specifically mentioned this writer during my review as someone that he was constantly checking on and correcting and expressed relief that he rarely needed to check my work or edit my stories before they were published.

    I’m still flabbergasted by the way that this particular manager handled the situation but grateful to have gotten out when I did. I would love a work environment where things were nipped in the bud before they got completely out of control and one where I knew I could count on everyone else’s words to be true and valid.

  • Rajarshi Chakraborti

    Glad to see that you have kept the entire Coaching and Feedback mechanism up front!! No wonder you guys are ranked highly on workplaces for people to be.

    I think one of the most important part here kept is that managers play a key role in employee development. A lot of time when Feedback/Appraisals/Reviews are considered, the Reviewee and Human Resource Department are considered as the only stake holders, but not the managers.

    I read somewhere a few days ago on Quora that sometimes, that salary hike or that top rating doesn’t matter, but the small things like : Manager/Reviewer/Peer comments and feedbacks. They go a long way.

    If the founders believe in a culture, and laid it, brilliant. But the difficult part is still yet to come. Hire Managers/First employees who do not only believe in their idea, but have the mantle of carrying their culture forward when the business grows and new team member joined in.

    We @ http://www.grosum.com encourage companies to use Feedback regularly, make them related to their Performance Objectives and Responsibilities :

    This helps in
    a) Continuous Feedback = Continuous Engagement
    b) Better Performance : Knows where to improve, what is happening correct, what is not
    c) Belief in the system : The belief that one “Annual” Meeting will not decide the outcome of my future, but regular coaching and feedback will!