The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place - George Bernard Shaw
It is this illusion of communication between employees and the management that can trap the latter in a cycle of non-performance. In an ever-changing business ecosystem, which is now dominated by new-age start-ups, most organizations identify employee feedback as an essential prerequisite in improving performance.
Functioning in a non-traditional work environment, start-ups largely comprise small yet dynamic teams of talented individuals. As management experience of employees is varied and roles diverse, instances of misalignment of employees within the organization are not uncommon. This makes employee feedback much more critical and complex.
Timely and effective feedback is an important part of the larger concept of performance management. Even though performance management is not a new concept, it has evolved quite a bit. Creating efficient feedback systems can, thus, be tricky for organizations.
Organizations consider feedback as a tool to open dialogue, drive motivation, encourage learning and most importantly, provide clarity to their employees. However, if companies implement performance management programs in the absence of a uniform policy, they might not see any of the above taking place.
The reason – on the level of implementation, the intended message might not be effectively conveyed, most likely due to two main causes:
- The feedback was delayed: If the required feedback is not given as soon as a task or a project is complete, it loses meaning and efficiency in driving change in employee behavior/ performance. To avoid such a situation, the management must devise a timely feedback system. This can eliminate recency bias, and make the review more reliable. Through this approach, employees will have an immediate understanding of what is going well and what is not and act accordingly.
- It followed a one-size-fits-all model: Given that performance management is based on complex components like behavior, outcomes, and skillsets, the management has to take these into account while drafting feedback. The management has to identify the unique areas in which they are lacking or excelling and tailor the feedback as per each employee’s requirements. When the feedback is individualized, it opens up a new realm of professional development for the employees.
Shifting nature of performance management
In this context, it is only reasonable for organizations to enable ongoing feedback, rather than adhering to older ways, where it was an enforced, annual process. To make it more effective, they have to shift the focus from big accomplishments to multiple milestones spread over a longer duration of time.
This can effectively reflect the progress made by the employees and help managers in rewarding them fairly. This will also arm employees with a clearer vision of the goal and a renewed drive towards achieving it even while functioning amidst tight deadlines. Moreover, such a feedback model gives them multiple opportunities to improve at every step and maximize their potential in the long run. This can translate into higher ROI for the company along with skilled employees, greater engagement and talent retention.
Adopting ongoing feedback can reinforce the aphorism, “a stitch in time saves nine”. It saves time and proves to be a highly cost-effective way of managing employees. Moreover, it makes feedback a collaborative rather than confrontational process. This can align employee career goals with the larger organizational vision to power new growth.