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"But fortune favours the brave, and they have succeeded in their determination to get the superior services AstraZeneca needs to compete and win in its market.” 


Mid-year brings painful performance reviews – why do we need them?

4 June 2013

As the mid-year mark approaches, it’s time for the dreaded mid-year performance reviews. But do we really need them?  Julie Redfield, talent management expert at PA Consulting Group, says yes and explains why. 

Redfield says, “Performance reviews often have an un-needed negative connotation. But they don’t have to be an unknown Pandora’s box of your worst fears. If managers are comfortable delivering solid, performance-based, specific feedback, then the experience not only can be beneficial but actually can lead to an ‘ah-ha’ moment about your potential as a leader.” 

Why Painful Experience?

However, Redfield notes that in her experience, the performance management processes can become painful with any of these three factors:

  • Line managers surprise employees with totally new and unexpected negative feedback. This typically happens if a line manager hasn’t been giving feedback all year and sees the process as a once-a-year time to tell someone about their performance.  
  • Performance management is treated as an HR Process that ‘Has-To-Be-Done’ versus an opportunity to help an employee understand clearly the expectations of his role, and how he can perform even better. 
  • Line managers are not comfortable with the process of giving feedback because they haven’t been properly trained and/or they haven’t experienced being the recipient of a great performance discussion themselves. 

Talent Management

‘Performance review’ can itself be a misleading term. Redfield explains that the entire paradigm of performance management can take on a positive connotation in employees’ minds if organisations can look at the process as an on-going cycle of ‘talent management,’ rather than once-a-year backward looking performance review.

“It takes effort to do it the right way,” says Redfield. “The word ‘review’ is backward-looking; instead you have an on-going cycle of ‘talent management’ which practices looking at the strengths and development needs individuals possess. Talent management should help give an organisation a positive way to play to people’s strengths, make employees understand their value to the company, and help employees deliver exceptional results. Using this method makes the performance review extremely valuable to both the employee and the organisation.”


Once this new process of an on-going cycle of talent management is implemented, sticking to the program is important. Redfield observes that one of the hurdles she encounters with some organisations is that people get frustrated when the performance management processes change; it leaves line managers with the (false) feeling that they can’t fully support an idea because ‘it will change anyway.’ Keeping the process going helps vanquish that feeling.

If line managers are well practiced and well versed in having direct conversations with unbiased data about performance outcomes, the process won’t be painful – it will instead be fruitful, notes Redfield.

Julie Redfield is a talent management expert at PA Consulting Group. She brings a commercial focus to the HR function by having it motivate and engage employees, focus on business outcomes and drive bottom line growth.

For more information about talent management at PA Consulting group, please click here.

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