Performance Reviews: Why We Do Them Differently

manager review

September is here, which means we’re one step closer to the holidays! At Imagine Media, this means getting our planning caps on in order to prepare (and over-deliver) for the busiest time of year for our team, our partners and consumers at large.

When we first started out, this also meant that it was time for Leadership to start thinking about Annual Reviews. In this Leadership Series blog post, I’ll be diving into our experience with Annual Reviews, why we made a switch to quarterly reviews instead and the success we’ve found in measuring our team’s progress periodically rather than once a year.

Why Annual Reviews were ineffective

So let’s start with the dreaded Annual Review. In short, we found them to be unproductive on a team and leadership basis. As leaders, we would spend at least a month prior to the last week of the year prepping. Our annual reviews were multiple pages long, formal and there was a weight on our shoulders to sum up an entire year in paragraph form. 

Teammates said that preparing for these meetings was anxiety-inducing and tough when it came to recalling details and occurrences. In this social landscape and fast-paced environment of Imagine Media, thinking back a few months and being able to not only conceptualize but measure performance was nearly impossible. Not to mention the fact that every little piece of feedback was amplified because it was brought up in the annual review. 

And the worst part is that we found the reviews would ignite conversations and action items that were soon overshadowed by the excitement of the holidays. So when we started the year with a clean slate, there was little to no accountability on items discussed. As an eternal optimist, this sounds extremely negative, so let’s get to the good part. 

Enter: Quarterly Scorecards

Once again, EOA equipped us with a tool that we didn’t know we needed, but once implemented, it was a game changer. We took the plunge and moved our entire team to a Quarterly Review schedule, and have not regretted it for a moment. 

Moving to Quarterly Scorecard Reviews had several benefits, including: More frequent meetings, less preparation necessary, the ability to take more immediate action on growth opportunities and numerical measurement of success. It also gives you a simple and straightforward look at your position as a whole, where your time should be spent and the largest areas of opportunity within the company.

Each of these Quarterly Scorecard Reviews are 30 minutes, take about 30 minutes of prep on the Leadership side, then leave the team with a solid basis of what to focus on in the coming quarter. They hold just as much weight as an annual review but eliminate the anxiety and unproductivity

What makes them different

You may be thinking, “Okay, so why don’t I just use my current scorecard template and host the meetings quarterly instead of reinventing the wheel?” Here are some of the main elements that make our Quarterly Scorecards different:

  • They’re customized for each role. Each scorecard outlines the top 5 priorities for each role along with a clear description of what success looks like in each position. This includes success factors that are SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time bound)

  • They show time dedication. In addition to priorities, the scorecard also lists what percentage of time each priority should take. For example, your top priority isn’t always the element of your position that you will spend the most time on. The scorecard is a great reminder of this. 

  • They consider core values. Each scorecard review is rounded out by a review on how each teammate is living out our core values. We review and discuss customized areas of opportunity for each and every teammate, which lends itself to a more personal approach.

Interested in a template of our Quarterly Review Scorecards? Send me an email at and I’d be happy to share one with you.