Weekend Poll Results: Performance Management in 2017

With thanks to all who participated, here are the results of my latest weekend poll. Our focus: Are regular performance reviews and feedback part of your professional life?

More than 59% of respondents have received a performance evaluation in the past year  
… and a total of 67% have received a performance review at some point in the past three years. At the other end of the spectrum, 10% have not received performance evaluations while in their current roles … and you’ll see in the Data section just how long that’s been for some of your peers!

What is and isn’t linked to your performance evaluations? For 37% of you, the same percentage as last year, salary is linked to performance evaluations. 62% of you reported that training/development plans are tied to such evaluations.

A post-publication update, relating to compensation: If you’re sorting out how to broach the subject of a salary increase,  you may want to turn to this article by one of my readers  – fellow trainer Bonnie Low-Kramen. Bonnie and I stay in touch and, after reading this article and the results of this latest Weekend Poll, Bonnie suggested readers may want to have a look at her thoughts, originally published n Lucy Brazier’s Executive Secretary Magazine. While Bonnie’s article is directed to women, male admin. professionals will find it equally relevant.

SMART goals While 78% of respondents are required to set goals as part of the process, 22% are not. A full 54% of you are required to establish SMART goals – those which are specific, measurable, achievable, results-based and time-bound. There are variations on the SMART mnemonic, but you get the idea.

How do you prepare for evaluations, and how do you feel about the process? Many people build and maintain files (electronic or otherwise) throughout the year to record their accomplishments and professional development activities as they occur, and also review their progress against goals.

I asked readers to rate their comfort on a scale from one (great discomfort) to five (complete ease). Almost one in three of you reported feeling complete ease, and 48% of you gave ratings of four or higher. More than a quarter of respondents assigned ratings of two or lower. Is it possible that, for some, there’s a corelation between discomfort with the process and infrequency of evaluations are delivered?

I also asked if you’d ever been surprised by feedback provided as the result of an evaluation. 28% of you said no, the result most HR professionals would hope to hear given the premise that there should be no surprises at performance evaluation time. A full 77% of respondents said you had been surprised by feedback – and not all surprises are happy ones.  Read on for full details.


Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options, and/or offered comments.

When did you last receive a formal performance evaluation in your current role?

  • 45% within the past six months – compared to 41% in 2016
  • 14.2% in the past year – compared to 22% in 2016
  • 8.2% within the past two years – compared to 7% in 2016
  • 0% within the past three years – compared to 12% in 2016
  • 2% reported it’s been more than three years – compared to 7% in 2016
  • 10.2% have not received a formal performance evaluation while in their current roles – compared to 7% in 2016. I asked people to comment how long they’d been in their current role if they selected this answer. People had been in their roles for as little as 15 months and as many as 18! In the middle, one respondent has been in the role for six years.
  • 10.2% reported this is not applicable, as they’ve been in their respective roles less than a year – compared to 4% in 2016
  • 10.2% selected “Other”. Comments included, “We just had it in February” and “My manager and I often have talks – he feels it’s not necessary to have one!”


Is your salary linked to formal performance evaluations?

  • Yes: 37% – the same percentage as in 2016
  • No: 61% – compared to 63% in 2016
  • 2% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented that there’s a chance to earn a salary increase every three years, with annual bonuses.


Are training/development plans linked to your formal performance evaluations? 

  • Yes: 62% – compared to 56% in 2016
  • No: 35% – compared to 44% in 2016
  • 3% of respondents selected “Other”.  One person commented that this depends on the assistant’s responsibilities.


Are you required to set goals as part of the process?

  • Yes – 78% – with a full 54% of respondents required to establish SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, results-based & time-bound (or variation thereof)
  • No – 22%
  • There are no comparisons to 2016, as I added this question with the 2017 poll.


On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing great discomfort and 5 representing complete ease, how comfortable are you with formal performance evaluations? 

  • 1 out of 5 (great discomfort): 10%, compared to 0% in 2016
  • 2 out of 5: 13%, compared to 18% in 2016
  • 3 out of 5: 26%, compared to 36% in 2016
  • 4 out of 5: 18% , compared to 29% in 2016
  •  5 out of 5 (complete ease): 31%, compared to 11% in 2016
  • 2% of respondents selected “Other”, compared to 6% in 2016. One person commented, “Cannot say since I never had one in 25 years as an assistant”.


Have you ever been surprised by feedback provided you as a result of an evaluation?

  • 44%: Yes, and happily so
  • 23%: Yes, and it wasn’t a happy surprise 
  • 28%: No
  • 5% of respondents selected “Other”. One person wrote, “Have experience(d) both positive & negative” surprises, and another commented, “Yes, on occasions happily so but on others not so happily”.
  • There are no comparisons to 2016, as this is another new question in 2017.


Next, I asked another new question: How do you prepare for performance evaluation meetings? Here are readers’ responses, in descending order of frequency of mention.

  • I review my progress against goals I’d established for this time period
  • I maintain a file (electronic or otherwise) of my accomplishments, and update it throughout the year
  • I maintain a file (electronic or otherwise) listing my professional development activities, and update it with each new course or event
  • Shortly before the meeting, I make a list of my professional development activities since the last such review
  • I review my executive’s goals, and consider means by which I’ve supported her/his capacity to meet goals
  • I maintain a file (electronic or otherwise) of kudos for work well done
  • I review my job description
  • Shortly before the meeting, I make a list of my accomplishments
  • I review the organisation’s strategic plan, and consider how my contributions support it
  • 3% of respondents selected “Other” to identify actions they take, as follows.
    • We have monthly review & feedback on numerous issues and a Yearly final plan …
    • Evaluate job description and add new roles or tasks added to position since last review


Does your executive/principal provide you with informal feedback on a regular basis??

  • Yes: 45%, compared to 67% in 2016
  • Only infrequently: 37%
  • No: 16%, down from 33% in 2016
  • 3% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented that such feedback is provided every half month, or (a must do) every quarter to three months


Which do you find more useful, informal feedback or formal evaluations? 

  • 60%  find informal feedback and formal evaluations equally useful – compared to 57% in 2016
  • 32% find informal feedback more useful – compared to 36% in 2016
  •  8% find formal evaluations more useful – compared to 3.5% in 2016
  •  No respondents selected “Other” – compared to 3.5% in 2016


Are you asked to contribute to performance evaluations of your executive/principal?

  • 24%: Yes; I’m sometimes included in the process
  • 8%: Yes; I’m routinely included in the process 
  • 65%: No
  • 3% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented, “Otherwise his/her direct boss or a member of the Board Of Directors”
  • This was also a new question in 2017, so there’s no 2016 benchmark.

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