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Pay as you Go Performance Review


Earlier this week, I received my first full performance review. In consulting firms this is a bit more challenging to do as each consultant has probably worked with several teams and each in very different contexts and circumstances.

To deal with this variability, at my firm, each individual is assigned a “consensus reviewer” — someone who compiles feedback and review comments from every team that the individual in question has worked with.

This is then synthesized into a “consensus review” which compiles feedback (both positive and negative) as well as the perspective of the reviewee into a performance review which management then uses to decide on promotions and compensation.

Long story short, the review went well. My reviewer identified a number of my strengths (e.g. analytical skills, “idea ownership”) and weaknesses (e.g. slide presentation, tendency to “boil the ocean“), but noted that I was on a good upward trajectory.

While this was heartening to hear (I have at least a few more months of employment!), I must confess that I find the process of performance reviews to be unnecessarily tedious. Not only do they suck up time, they artificially create periods of extra stress for management as well as the rank and file who, every review cycle, feel the crushing weight of being scrutinized and compared.

What would be much more effective (and should be where the bulk of the work is done) is a “pay-as-you-go performance review“, one where management and staff understand that feedback is not something to be saved for an artificial deadline, but given freely and whenever necessary — both positive and negative. This way, management is not scratching their heads trying to come up with something to talk about from four months ago every review cycle. From a performance perspective, this also helps as it fosters a more open culture where feedback on a regular basis is not only desired but expected, and problems are corrected as they arise, rather than referred to vaguely several months later.

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