Traditional performance management is giving way to agile performance management, constituting of continuous feedback, open communication, and a coaching outlook. For the employee, continuous feedback opens up communication channels, nurtures trust and encourages employees to actively participate in their own development and performance, empowering them. For the manager, it makes performance evaluations more objective, collaborative and fosters a coaching and development mindset, thereby presenting a solid business case for companies to move away from traditional yearly appraisals and embrace continuous feedback.
71% of organizations are either re-evaluating their current performance management system, upgrading it, or have updated it over the past three years, according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.
Shifts due to continuous feedback
In the recent years, a number of companies like Accenture, Adobe and Deloitte have done away with the annual performance review and adopted ongoing “check-ins.” However, crafting a continuous feedback mechanism calls for a multifaceted shift in the performance management paradigm.
Apart from the shift to receptive and fluid processes, people need to be oriented to the new concept. HR must make the right technological choices regarding performance management software. All of these changes require an ongoing leadership commitment in terms of time, effort and budget. Most importantly, a shift to continuous feedback can challenge the organizational aspiration to outperform itself continually. Tackling this change head-on is often the biggest challenge to adopting continuous feedback.
How to cultivate continuous feedback
Embracing continuous feedback is interlinked with all other organizational processes and outcomes.
• Culture Shift: A move towards continuous feedback calls for the acceptance of values such as openness and transparency, acceptance, honesty, mutual respect, collaboration, and an outlook towards coaching and development. Leaders must embody these values, living them and communicating them day in and day out.
The role of HR must be to coach employees and supervisors in best practices on conducting difficult conversations and accepting and acting on constructive feedback. A great way to do this is to have focus group discussions to help people understand the cultural shift.
• Process Shift: HR professionals must design a performance management process to regularly document pit-stops for analyzing performance and sharing feedback.
Establish open communication channels- face-to-face connects, virtual tools like a feedback-giving mobile app would help. Teach supervisors how to coach and develop their teams, and design and deploy a coaching and mentoring framework if needed.
• Technological Shift: Employees nowadays are always tuned into social media, mobile, and other interactive media. HR can tap into these technological means to create a continuous feedback loop. The first step is to have a performance management system with feedback as a vital component. Some features to include are online check-in documentation and editing capabilities, 360 degrees feedback templates with the right workflows, instant communication through integration with messaging platforms, etc. Use technology to make performance management easier for HR too, by devising dashboards and feedback categories, and linking feedback to competencies and organizational goals.
The HR technology market presents a number of options to deliver a great continuous feedback experience. Some favorable tools that uphold the concept of continuous feedback are “Performance and Goals” and “360 Degree Feedback”. The “Performance and Goals” tool enables continuous performance feedback through one click, in real time. It captures the formal performance dialogue and also connects data from informal discussions. It thus provides an all-round and authentic performance insight.
“360 Degree Feedback” is more development-oriented. It enables managers to have a clear view of their employees, by easily assessing competencies, skills and gaps to make development meaningful. The anonymous feedback feature helps employees and managers gain an objective insight into individual performance. The multi-source feedback from managers, peers and other stakeholders is holistic and encourages employees to strive for better performance.
Employees are demanding greater connection and collaboration at the workplace; they want to be proactively invested in their careers. Organizations, therefore have a compelling need to be agile, receptive, to engage one’s people and set them up for success. Leaders must acknowledge this fact and take the first steps towards continuous feedback by living the continuous feedback values themselves and propagating them across the organization.