Advantages & Disadvantages of Top-Down Performance Reviews

A performance review assesses work productivity.
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Sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat are normal as you wait to get your performance review from your boss. Her words will likely make or break your day, possibly even your whole week. Top-down reviews give your boss a chance to assess your work progress, but there are disadvantages. Your boss might not see the whole picture. If you receive a raving review, save your dancing and celebrating until later. Some employees might not be so lucky, and you want to maintain professionalism. If your review doesn't accurately represent your performance, think it over before you confront your boss.

Carries Some Weight

    Top-down performance reviews carry some weight within the company. Anytime you get feedback from your manager or supervisor, especially if it's an officially documented review, it reveals your value to the company or organization. According to "Inc.," magazine, a direct supervisor's performance review is the best way to truly assess an employee's performance." If it's a positive review, it might help you get a promotion or a raise. A negative review could do the opposite and might even mean your job security is at risk. A peer-to-peer review might be beneficial, but it doesn't usually carry the weight that a top-down review carries.

Reveals Your Boss's Perceptions

    For good or bad, a top-down performance review reveals your boss's perceptions of you. If she's not highly involved in your work projects or daily activities, she might not have a realistic view of your abilities and contributions. On the other hand, she might be observant and engaged in your work tasks and make note of them. The advantage of a top-down review is that you don't have to second-guess whether your boss is satisfied with your performance -- it's clearly documented. The disadvantage is you might not want to know what she thinks of you, especially if the two of you clash.

Limited in Scope

    A top-down review is limited in scope because it doesn't reveal what your subordinates think of you or what coworkers of a similar standing think about your work contributions. Your boss's review from an ivory tower might not be the same review you'd get from a coworker who works beside you in the trenches. Some companies incorporate both top-down and peer-to-peer reviews into an employee's overall performance review. Others allow employees to write self-evaluations that are included with top-down reviews.

Affects Your Outlook

    You might feel like everything is sunny at work, but a negative top-down performance review can make you feel like the clouds just rolled in. According to "Forbes," a cynical review kills excitement, harms creative thinking and reminds employees of their weaknesses. You might worry about your long-term goals, job advancement opportunities and reputation with senior management. On the other hand, a positive review might inspire you to work harder, making every effort to prove to your boss that you deserve every word she said. If a top-down review -- good or bad -- makes you strive to do better, then it's an advantageous work tool. If it discourages you, negatively affects your outlook and hinders your overall work performance, it can be a prickly thorn in your side.

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