Resources How-to's Motivating managers to complete employee reviews on time


Motivating managers to complete employee reviews on time

For many organizations, getting managers to complete their employee performance reviews on time is a real challenge. There is a whole host of reasons why managers fail to complete appraisals, including: too large a workload, failing to see the value in appraisals, lack of skill at giving feedback or managing staff, or lack of knowledge about the process and deadlines. And then sometimes managers just procrastinate.

These underlying reasons should certainly be addressed on an individual basis, but sometimes organizations also need to make systemic changes to improve on-time completion. After all, failing to give employees regular timely feedback on their performance impacts employee satisfaction, productivity and retention. It can also impact the effectiveness of your other talent management programs, like compensation, development planning, and succession planning/leadership development. Here are some suggestions to help you get your managers on board.

Automate your employee performance appraisal process and forms

One of the simplest ways to drive up participation and on-time completion of employee performance reviews is to automate your process and forms with a web-based application like Halogen Performance™.

Moving the whole thing on line saves everyone valuable time and money. It takes the guesswork out of the process; managers no longer wonder what form to use, when the appraisal is due, or what to do next. The application takes care of all that detail for them, presenting managers with a list of tasks, the due date for each, the form they need to use, and giving them access to background info like multi-rater reviews, past appraisals, development plans, goal status, performance journals and more. Managers have all the information they need to write the appraisal, right at their fingertips. The application also handles the workflow and approval process. And it makes the actual writing faster and easier by providing suggested comment text, coaching tips, and development activities, as well as checking language and spelling. Most applications also allow you to configure automated email reminders that can be sent to both managers and their superiors, so you can escalate the issue of tardiness up the reporting chain if needed.

Finally, automated performance management applications also give HR reporting capabilities, so they can monitor everyone's progress in the process, identify bottlenecks and take appropriate action.

Make it part of a manager's job

Some organizations make on-time completion of employee performance reviews, following the corporate process, a formal part of every manager's job. Each manager is assigned a goal to complete their appraisals on time, and is then evaluated and rated on whether or not they met the goal. Others include performance management related competencies in their list of competencies that managers are evaluated on-things like: concern for employee satisfaction, managing employee performance, providing feedback to subordinates and employee programs.

Use positive reinforcement

Many companies also have success with positive reinforcement programs to encourage participation and on-time completion.

You can reward managers who complete all their employee performance reviews on time with things like:

  • Time off with pay
  • Plum projects/work assignments
  • Gift cards (or points towards a gift card or other reward)
  • Free coffee
  • A reserved parking space, or access to a better parking lot
  • Invitation to a special lunch or reception
  • Chocolate or some other goody
  • Public acknowledgement (e.g. their name on a publicly displayed honor roll board, acknowledgement on the company intranet, mention in a newsletter, etc.)
  • Corporate wear (e.g. t-shirt, mug, ball cap, etc. with the company logo)
  • Entry into a draw for a more substantial prize

Since completing appraisals on time involves cooperation and effort from both the manager and their employees, you could consider doing a group incentive, rewarding departments or teams rather than individuals.

Use your imagination...

Just make sure the reward is meaningful and valuable, but also sustainable. When implementing any of these reward programs, you need to consider your corporate culture as well as your budget. You'll want to select a reward of the right scale that is in keeping with your organizational culture and other similar programs. You also want to make sure you can financially afford the reward in the event of full participation. Finally, you need to make sure that you're rewarding positive behavior-completing richly-detailed, high-value appraisals that drive high performance, rather than negative behavior-getting the task done quickly, in a slip-shod way, just to get the reward. Too large or valuable a reward can motivate negative behavior.

Use negative reinforcement

Some organizations find it necessary and effective to use negative reinforcement. One company penalizes tardy managers by giving their employees an extra week of pay, impacting the manager's ability to stay within budget. Another organization sends managers who are late completing their appraisals an email warning them of possible suspension, then follows up with an actual notice of suspension if appraisals are not completed. Strong actions such as these don't work effectively in all situations, but can be important for organizations in regulated environments, where there are real business consequences for incomplete or late appraisals.


Whatever method you choose, it's important to build a culture where employees receive regular, formal feedback on their performance, are assigned clear goals and benefit from ongoing development. Performance appraisals are one of the key ways organizations can build alignment and organizational effectiveness, and drive employee satisfaction and retention.

Read how others have successfully motivated managers to complete their employee performance appraisals on time

At Rockford Health System, they achieved 100% on-time completion with their nearly 3000 users for the first time, by automating their employee performance management process. When they surveyed managers and employees about the new tool and process, they found that managers were 95 percent satisfied with the system and employees were 75 percent satisfied.

After automating their performance management process, Sun-Rype Products saw a complete turnaround in on-time completion, from 35 percent in 2007 to 93 percent in 2009 and 100 percent in 2010.

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