Focus of Performance Evaluations Should Be On The Future Rather Than The Past

Performance evaluations are usually perceived as analyzing how an employee has ‘faired’ over the last year. Most performance management systems focus on a yearend appraisal process where each employee is assessed against the set of predetermined goals. However this is not a sustainable approach as it focuses on judging employees and dwelling in the past. Successful organizations focus primarily on creating strategic plans for the future rather than only on the past. A classic approach to performance management is to ensure that you analyze the past performance – not to be critical about it, but to ensure that it has a positive impact on the future of your organization.

This is exactly why most of the organizations are moving towards a ‘continuous’ performance management system. This helps managers keep a track of the performance levels of each of the employees and ensures that they are on track. Continuous feedback gives employees the opportunity to correct before it’s too late. Furthermore, managers can offer relevant coaching if the performance is not up to the mark.

Moving on to a system where performance reviews focus on the future rather than the past:

  • As mentioned earlier, traditionally, performance reviews focused on discussing the ‘past’ and what was right or wrong about it. However, this trend has seen a major change and most organizations have moved on to focusing on it’s impact on the future of the company as a whole. Simultaneous consideration needs to be given to both, the past and the future elements of an employee’s performance, rather than simply evaluate the past accomplishments.
  • In practical terms, – past accomplishments need to be evaluated. They cannot be completely eliminated. The formal performance reviews must include discussions on what has gone well in the future and why. These discussions must also include how that success can be replicated in the future.
  • Furthermore, when things haven’t gone very well in the past, the performance review discussions should centre around what lessons have been learnt and how to reduce the impact for the future.
  • These kind of performance reviews consider the capabilities of the employees and take development actions in order to achieve greater goals.
  • The final outcome of a performance review should always be a set of specific actions for the future which are then followed up ‘continuously’ (as mentioned earier) throughout the year.
  • To make the process simpler, you can also use performance management software to track employee performances and make sure that everyone is on the right track.


Above all, this approach greatly impacts the overall performance of the organization and aligns each employee’s goals to the success of the organization. Well, it also creates a positive environment where employees do not feel ‘judged’ – but feel that their contributions (however large or small) are valued.

Well, moving the focus from the deeds of the past to the opportunities in the future sets a positive note to begin the new appraisal cycle and creates an overall great work culture too.