The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it common and generally accepted for an HR executive to sit in during a performance review? I don't agree to have the HR sit in because the presence of a third party may have impact on what can or cannot be discussed as openly as I wish.

What is the role of HR joining the meeting at all? How does it facilitate the performance review at all?

share|improve this question
HR is probably here to make sure that the content of the performance review does not stray into inappropriate territory. HR is responsible for making sure that company personnel acts in compliance with company policies and the applicable labor laws. You are not comfortable? That's irrelevant. – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 23 '14 at 3:14
up vote 22 down vote accepted

It's not usual practice, but it is certainly not unheard of. You can try asking why, but they may not tell you. It may or may not be anything to do with you.

Possible reasons include the company wanting a third party who can confirm what was said at the review if it later becomes important (lawsuits being one of several possible reasons); your boss may be having his performance review techniques checked up on, or HR may be conducting a survey of how performance reviews are done in the company. It may be that your boss is going to deliver some kind of formal warning to you, but these are normally delivered without HR in my experience, and if you are about to get a formal warning then you should already be aware that something is wrong. In any case objecting to the presence of HR isn't going to help.

The presence of HR isn't going to affect the review. HR has full access to your employment records if they need it, so there isn't anything that can't be discussed in front of them. The only exception would be if you intended to bring up some extremely personal matter. Your best bet is to just ignore the other person in the review completely, unless they want to interact with you.

share|improve this answer
The reason provided was that the HR was there to act as witness as to any agreement between the 2 parties e.g. performance incentive etc. to ensure these are written down and avoid future conflict. – user5473 Jun 6 '14 at 7:28

In my experience, it is usually a sign that something is happening elsewhere, probably legal, that has the company exposed to liability, and they want to make sure there is an observer in the reviews.

I (obviously) can't say why the HR person is there, but that is a common occurrence after a lawsuit has been filed to avoid a he said / she said predicament.

share|improve this answer

I don't think it is common, but I would expect the HR person to explain why she is there. It could be company policy (Still nice to know why.). You should have asked.

More HR people (assuming they have the expertise) need to take an active role in in training and evaluating the reviewers. Not everyone is good at it. Google crunched the numbers and found the best way to predict a good hire was by looking at who hired them and who suggested not hiring them.

Since you did not ask, this may be a sign that you are not comfortable with the way your company operates. Is there a reason to be suspicious? If not, go ask HR and give them some feedback that you didn't feel you could be open in the meeting. Maybe you need another meeting with your boss without HR present. You shouldn't wait for the formal review to work things out with your boss either good or bad.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.