Is it time to schedule a performance review? Whether a business opts for anniversary or focal assessments, these are a key part of a manager’s duties and the company’s ongoing success.


Some enterprises evaluate their employees on the anniversary of their hiring dates. These annual reviews are often used by businesses that onboard throughout the year. They may be perceived as unbiased because everyone is assessed on the anniversary of their hiring, giving new employees a chance to turn in a full year of work before being criticized. By conducting these reviews throughout the year, it also gives managers more time to complete individual analyses.

However, annual reviews tend to have balance and analytic problems. Using annual reviews, for example, makes it harder to collect data on the entire workforce. Any changes in the process will take a full year to reach all employees. Updates like compensation adjustments may be harder to calculate because they can fall at any point in the cycle. Plus, managers in charge of many employees may be forced to neglect other duties to complete performance reviews.

Focal Reviews

If a company decides to assess all of its personnel at once, it’s employing a focal review. This is currently a favored model in the business world; however, it has its drawbacks. Consider the following pros and cons:

  • Pro: Timing and consistency. By tackling all reviews at once, it’s easier for multiple employees to be compared. Arranging for changes in the review process and training managers in how to appropriately review subordinates is also streamlined. Scheduling compensation adjustments is fairer because everyone’s performance is assessed at once.
  • Pro: Focused efforts. These reviews are also considered easier on management and human resources departments because everyone is concentrating on performance reviews. Otherwise, these teams will have performance reviews coming in through the year and will need to constantly adjust their data.
  • Con: Accounting for new hires. There needs to be an established policy in place for employees with less than a year of performance. If an individual has only been working for two months, comparing them to individuals who have been employed for a full year or more is unfair and will lead to inaccurate conclusions.
  • Con: Potential for bias. Managers looking at everyone’s performance at once may reach the point where they can’t differentiate between employees, or they’ll just want to get the reviews over with. You also run the risk of workers not taking the results seriously if they come across as insincere or generic.

Performance Review Best Practices

When scheduling annual performance reviews, ensure they’re completed on time for all employees to limit the risk of bias. Managers should also communicate with personnel throughout the year, rather than saving information until the formal process. Correcting problems is easiest when they’re small, and waiting to recognize good work can prevent it from continuing. Keep in contact with employees to ensure the fairest reviews possible, and work with a team of professionals to achieve the most effective analysis possible.