If you’re an experienced HR pro, you know how review season typically begins. You start nudging your managers to launch the review process. Your managers, in turn, start nudging their staff to complete self-evaluations. And for a few days, eye contact is dodgy and the air is filled with tense jokes. Then review sessions take place amid an atmosphere of shared embarrassment and everybody walks away from the process with a sigh of relief. Another year is in the bag. Perceptions of performance, good or bad, have been laid bare. Goals have been established, and a new cycle begins. Those who need to work harder have been counseled, and those who are doing well have been praised. Done and done.

But what happens when you don’t get off so easy?  What happens if yours is the type of workplace where every annual review cycle spirals into frustration, resentment, lost productivity and social disaster? The kind of workplace where managers cynically go through the motions of performance reviews, and employees leave the room in a negative mood regardless of how much they contribute to the company? What happens if your upper management can’t fix the situation because they don’t understand the problem, or worse, don’t care?

If this describes your review season year after year, consider the following tips…

1. Re-examine your culture. If this is a fun-loving workplace where employees are encouraged to take risks, don’t subject these same employees to a yearly review process better suited to a culture that’s rigid and risk-averse. Make sure your process matches your atmosphere, and vice versa.

2. Re-examine your software. If your review software doesn’t support productivity, get rid of it. Make sure you’re using a software platform that a) keeps detailed, long term records, b) allows easy cross-referencing across multiple metrics, and c) provides an accurate picture of each employee. “Performance” is complex and subjective. But sophisticated software like emPerform can make the process more accurate and productive.

3. Don’t be afraid of change. Take a hard look at your process every year, and when you see opportunity for adjustment and improvement, take it. Mercilessly review your review protocols. And when it’s time to let a failing element go, do so without hesitation. Your culture evolves, your business evolves, and your review process should be able to evolve as well.

For more great talent management resources, visit the emPerform resource library or downloadable webinar archive.