Structured performance reviews encourage people to improve their faults, not work on their strengths. They are generally counter-productive as the feedback usually comes too late and, because of the structure, tries to solve for all cases rather than be custom to the employee.
An alternative to the structured yearly performance review is doing everything possible to develop a culture of feedback. Feedback promotes growth. And while feedback from one's manager is really important, feedback from your colleagues, reports, and other people in the company is really valuable too.
As a manager, the most important thing you can do is to grow your reports. Growth = long term happiness AND higher performance. So it is a no-brainer that you should focus on growth.
Some people react better to constructive feedback. By "constructive feedback", I mean talking about something they did and telling them how they can improve. For instance, you might tell someone how to alter their golf swing to get more power.
Some people react better to positive feedback. By "positive feedback", I mean recognizing when someone does something great and walking them through why it was great. For instance, after watching hundreds of golf swings you did, the golf instructor sees one that is done really well, tells you what a great swing it was, and walks you through why it was so good. The hope is that you remember the positive feedback and it imprints on your brain.
Most people need a combination of both constructive and positive feedback. But the ratio is very dependent on the person. Some people need five parts constructive for every one part positive. Some people need five parts positive for every one part constructive. Everyone is different. As a manager, your job is figure out the ratio of feedback that each of your reports need and give it to them.
Where most managers go wrong is that they apply the same feedback ratio to EVERY employee. This will lead to confusion, sub-optimal performance, and slower growth.
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