Why Performance Reviews are Outdated and Useless in Tech


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It’s time to face the facts: performance reviews are a bad idea. They’re outdated and have no place in today’s workplace, yet managers still rely on them for annual raises, promotion, and hiring decisions – and are making mistakes as a result. The problem is that these reviews don’t work because they don’t address the real issues that affect performance in any given situation. Instead of focusing on what people can do better (or worse), they allow us to pretend that individual effort is responsible for results when it’s often not true at all.

They’re outdated.

Performance reviews are a relic of the industrial age. They were developed in the early 1900s to keep track of factory workers and measure their productivity, not to improve employee performance. In fact, many companies still use performance reviews as a way to force employees into compliance with outdated corporate cultures and unrealistic expectations.

The problem with traditional performance reviews is that they only focus on what happened in your previous job title or role at your company. They do not take into consideration how you’ve grown over time or if your skills are still relevant for where you want to go next in your career. Instead, they reward those who got lucky by being promoted into positions they weren’t qualified for while leaving out those who have been working hard but haven’t had any luck getting promoted recently due to poor timing or other factors outside of their control (like budget cuts).

They don’t work.

Performance reviews are a waste of time. They have done nothing to help you, and they never will. Performance reviews are not effective; it’s time for them to die.

In order for performance reviews to be useful, they would need to be less than useless: they would need to help you improve your skills, or at least provide clear direction on how your career should progress within the company. But they don’t do either of those things—and neither can they!

They breed resentment.

Performance reviews are a source of resentment for many people. People don’t like being told how they’re doing and then being judged, even if it’s in a positive way. Even those who feel like their performance was stellar might resent having to answer the question “What can we do better?”

Many people also don’t like being told how they’re doing because it can be difficult to hear that they’ve done something wrong when there’s nothing they could have done differently (which is frequently the case). If you’ve ever had someone give you feedback on something that was out of your control—like “You need to work on not being so quiet during meetings”

Finally, some people just don’t want their performance evaluated at all because they feel uncomfortable with the idea of being judged at all times and by everyone around them; these folks may have bad experiences where others’ expectations were unrealistic and unrealistically high compared with what was reasonable for them personally given their circumstances at work – which leads back again into resentment!

They destroy relationships.

These reviews are often used as a way to assign blame. For instance, if you were late to work three times in the past month, it may be because your boss has some sort of personal vendetta against you. Or maybe he’s just a jerk and likes seeing people fail. Either way, you’ll always feel like an office pariah after receiving one of these reviews.

Additionally, performance reviews tend not to take into account team-based contributions or even company-wide efforts (if you’re working at a small tech startup). You can’t measure your performance without taking into account how it affects other people around you—but traditional performance reviews often ignore this critical aspect of work life altogether.

One thing that people are quick to point out is that there’s no way for employees who work remotely—and therefore don’t have any coworkers nearby—to receive formal feedback from their managers about their progress on projects or assignments unless they take time out of their day to go into an office for meetings with those managers instead of working remotely from home (which means less productivity).

No one likes them.

Performance reviews are a waste of time, money, resources, energy and life. They’re not even good for the environment.

If you can’t see that there’s something wrong with our current approach to performance management then you should probably stop reading here because I don’t think we have anything more to say to each other.

But if this article resonates with you then let me ask: is it possible that the problem isn’t simply that your company needs to implement a new process? It’s possible that it needs to change its entire culture?

But despite all this, managers still rely on performance reviews for annual raises, promotion, and hiring decisions—and they’re making mistakes as a result.

Performance reviews are not effective for development.

Performance reviews aren’t useful for learning or development because they focus on what someone has done in the past rather than what could be possible in the future. Traditional performance management is based on fixed traits like skills, abilities and knowledge that are assumed to be static over time (and don’t change much at all). This means that most of us are evaluated by our managers based on what we did last year or even last month—but if you want to become better at your job, who cares about last year?

Performance reviews are ineffective, outdated, and introduce problems of their own.

Performance reviews are ineffective, outdated, and introduce problems of their own.

Performance reviews are not effective. They don’t improve performance. Research shows that performance reviews don’t actually have any positive impact on employee performance or retention rates (see Pam Krueger’s article in Harvard Business Review).

The reason is simple: most employees know what they need to do to get a raise or a promotion, but the review process doesn’t help them improve at all. It just creates a lot of stress for the little payoff—and sometimes even makes things worse by making people feel like their bosses don’t trust them or understand what they’re capable of doing. Performance reviews also encourage managers to focus on “fixing” employees’ weaknesses rather than improving what they already do well (see Linda Hill’s column in Harvard Business Review).

There are alternatives to ways to develop and manage workers

There are alternatives to performance reviews…

  • You can invite peers to review you, instead of your manager. This is a good way for managers to get an honest assessment from their team, and gives them insight into how others perceive their work.
  • Managers could hold monthly or quarterly “catch-ups” with employees they want to support, without the formal structure of a performance review. These meetings allow managers and employees to discuss professional development goals, give feedback on how things are going so far this quarter/year, etc.).
  • Weekly pulse checks for managers and employees on the state of morale in the department can help identify potential issues before they become serious problems (or at least provide early warning signs). For instance:
    • `”How do you feel about working here? What would like us do differently?”`
  • Project performance debriefs can also be a great way for team members to demonstrate their knowledge of the project and for managers to identify areas for improvement.
  • Finally, digital coaching software can provide insights into the health of the team without requiring much time or effort from managers.


If you’re a manager at a tech company, it might be time to consider whether your performance review process is outdated and in need of an upgrade. These days, there are many alternative ways to develop and manage workers that are more effective at improving their productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction than traditional reviews. These include skills training programs, and leadership development workshops for managers or team members alike – even just talking about one’s work with peers can help them improve their performance! Whatever approach you choose, there’s no reason why we should continue relying on an outdated system when there are better options available.”

Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes a learning specialist, designs and delivers learning initiatives (both in-class and online) for a global and internal audience. He is responsible for the ongoing development, delivery, and maintenance of training. He has the ability to manage competing priorities to execute time-sensitive deliverables within a changing environment. He contributes to continually improving the team's processes and standards and works as a member of the team to assist with team initiatives.


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