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I find the annual performance review process both AWESOME and TERRIBLE.

AWESOME because I get to engage in significant and meaningful dialogue with my reports and my leader.  We all want to get better.

TERRIBLE because we are imperfect creatures, and we sometimes hurt each other in that imperfection.  For instance, poor front-end expectation communication by me, the leader, may cause my team member to be surprised and hurt during a review when s/he had no idea they were under-performing.

Or maybe they’ve heard only positive/bland feedback from their leaders over the years, and for the first time they have a leader that is willing to confront hard topics, and my team member is surprised and hurt.

I realize the annual-ization, the formalization, of performance discussion is a flawed system — but it is a system in which many of us are required to participate.  And that feedback is to be provided from leader to the led on an ongoing basis, but many of us juggle priorities imperfectly and fail to do the “ongoing” piece.

Do you agree with my AWESOME and TERRIBLE assessment?  Have you experienced this?  If so, what are your “war stories”?  And what tactics do you employ to maximize the AWESOME and minimize the TERRIBLE?


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