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Burn All Your Performance Reviews

If you’re like me, you take performance reviews very seriously. They’re a great way to get a read on how you’re doing professionally and they allow you to set out goals for future growth. They are also one of those documents that should be read over thoroughly and then promptly destroyed.

I’m serious. Performance reviews should never be allowed to simply sit around in a file folder. In fact, performance reviews should never exist anywhere where they can be easily reached once they have been initially delivered. This is a truth I had to discover the hard way after keeping all of my previous performance reviews for the last 9 years.

Not only did I keep a digital copy of my reviews; I printed out each of them and stuck them in a manila file folder. This folder sat just beneath my desk and it had a tendency to be pulled out when I was feeling introspective.

Simply put; performance reviews are the last place anyone should be looking when they are trying to determine the best way to move forward. The reason for this is, like many documents, performance reviews are subject to their author’s own personality. This is not to say that my previous supervisors had it out for me. In fact, the exact opposite is true and that was the problem; performance reviews tended to reflect the best way I should move forward AT A SPECIFIC TIME.

That’s why I chose to take all of mine this past week and commit them to the care of my fireplace. I was simply tired of trying to reconcile my current path forward by examining the path I took to travel here. It was like Lewis and Clark trying to find their way through undiscovered wilderness by facing backwards. Every time I tried to make a correction based on what I had previously done, I took my focus on interpreting exactly what was in front of me.

I truly believe that the performance review process has merit and can be incredibly useful when done correctly. The fact is though that when you keep them around for future reference they make really lousy road maps.

If you have any still around, do yourself a favor and just get rid of them. Wish them the best in their future state of kindling, bird-cage lining, or however you chose to use them. Trust me on this one – you’ll be much happier and, without the reverse road-map, you might even get to enjoy the journey.

Photo Courtesy RyanKemmers

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