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Rethinking quarterly reviews


Ask managers and employees if they get excited about annual performance reviews, and both parties will react negatively. Not only do annual reviews fill people with a sense of dread, but most of us find them inefficient and outdated.

It’s time to change that.

All of us want honest, constructive feedback, that will help us move forward and grow in our current role. One of the best ways to help our employees feel engaged is by having regular, quarterly reviews with them.

Disadvantages of annual reviews.

Out of date and untimely

It is nearly impossible to remember everything an employee has done though out the year, good or bad. Annual reviews do not allow for significant recognition when it is due, nor do they help correct ongoing behaviours that have negative impact on an employee’s performance. Praise and constructive feedback need to happen in real time for positive growth to occur.

Assumptions get made

While it’s true that everyone holds unconscious bias, annual reviews are prone to amplify these perceptions because they don’t allow for real-time reflection based on facts and figures. Simply put, a year’s length of time between reviews will inevitably allow important details to be overlooked and assumptions to be made. This allows for poor reviews to happen even when good results have been achieved, and vice versa.

One-sided conversations

When you are reviewing a whole year of work, the conversation tends to be very one-sided. One reason for this is that you are setting a specific amount of time for a lot of details to be discussed, which doesn’t lend to open and organic conversations. When a manager is only giving feedback and an employee doesn’t have a chance to contribute, they will leave that meeting feeling unengaged, uninspired, and under appreciated.

Incredibly time consuming

If you are reviewing an employee’s performance annually, not only do you have a lot of ground to cover, but it takes a long time to pull all that information together. That is, if you have the time in your day to do a good job of your preparations. Often both the review and your preparation time end up being rushed, and important aspects are missed. If you don’t discuss a major issue in your annual review, there is no chance that the behaviour responsible will be modified. All critical obstacles need to be discussed during this meeting, and that necessitates a very detailed and lengthy review process.

Changing the Narrative: Quarterly Reviews

Focus on quarterly goals and future improvements

Quarterly reviews allow you to focus on the 3-months ahead. You can set clear goals that focus on career growth for that employee, as well as goals that will align with the overall business strategies. The follow up  quarterly reviews then can focus on how those goals were achieved, where misses happened, and how to move forward to the next set of goals with improvement. This gives employees a sense of focus and direction – which they often lack with annual reviews.

Identify problems quickly

Poor performance can be caused by any number of issues – not just lack of commitment from an employee. By touching base more often, you can find out about areas that are actually causing the issue and help resolve them.  It is not just behavioural problems that are quickly resolved, but also business problems. For instance, if a new system has been initiated that is causing major issues in the day-to-day of your employees, quarterly reviews can alert you to these problems, allowing you to make changes quickly and efficiently.   Quarterly reviews stop small problems from blowing up into large ones.

More engaged employees

When employees are listened to, and actions are taken to improve both their performance and environment, they will naturally be more engaged. Engaged employees are much more productive than disgruntled ones. Once they realize that the honest conversations in their quarterly reviews are having a positive impact, they will be more forthcoming with you in the months in between. In turn, this will facilitate an atmosphere of team work and collaboration.

Reinforces a job well done

Rather than waiting a year to shower an employee with praise for a job well done, it is done promptly with quarterly reviews. Employee recognition makes people feel validated and drives engagement. Recognition doesn’t require a lot of effort, but it does reap big results.

Reviews take less time

Continuous feedback supports your review process. As you are taking notes during quarterly reviews, it is easier to review those along with an employee’s performance. This makes reviews a smoother process, and allows for more opportunity during the time set aside to explore areas you would previously not have had time for. It also allows you to remain up to date on where everything is in real-time.


Your employees are your biggest asset; without them you wouldn’t have a company to run. Don’t wait until the end of year to work out if they are happy and engaged. Be more proactive with quarterly reviews to monitor what is going on with your team. Don’t allow bad situations to take you by surprise.

If you are looking to fill open roles with qualified candidates that are a good fit and will be long term assets in your company connect with one of us today! Let’s work together to make your company the success it should be.

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