Performance management is evolving to an ongoing dialogue between the employer and the employee. This arises from the dynamic nature of the work environment and changing workplace milieu, which demands continuous skill development and employee growth. The traditional annual appraisal process does not do justice to the rapid pace of change. Continuous feedback is the key to involve employees in achieving the company goal. It is no surprise that the performance management is shifting from a mere performance rating to feedback.
51% of millennials feel that feedback should be given very frequently or continually on the job and only 1% feel that feedback is not important to them, according to a PwC survey.
Continuous feedback involves discussing an employee's strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis. Employees need to know how they are performing all the time. Instantaneous rewards or recognition boosts morale. And instant feedback-coaching on performance gaps drives the right workplace expectations. Here are the basic tenets of the continuous feedback process:
- Open communication channels and a culture of trust to foster continuous dialogue.
- Discussion-based goal setting to involve the employee in managing his / her performance and better align employee aspirations with organizational goals.
- A process for frequent “check-ins”- a formal setting for frequent supervisor-employee discussions.
- Honest and objective feedback given in real time.
- Year-round documentation of employee achievements and improvement areas.
- A participative process that involves various stakeholders in a documented dialogue.
- Managers adopt a coaching mentality rather than a reprimanding mentality.
Benefits to employees
- Informed and engaged employee: The ongoing connects allows the employee to actively participate by way of open discussions. The employee is thus emotionally invested in his / her development and performance, and is better engaged.
- Timely recognition reinforces good behaviours: Recognizing employees each time they display a favourable behaviour helps the employee link the behaviour to the recognition. This encourages employees to repeat desirable behaviours.
- Helps anticipate obstacles: Timely feedback on improvement areas can serve as an eye-opener to tackle further obstacles. It can help the employee take efforts to course-correct well before the deliverable deadline, thereby enhancing organizational agility and performance. Research by Zenger and Folkman points out that “Negative (redirecting) feedback, when delivered appropriately is effective at improving performance.”
Benefits to managers and the organization
- Performance records minimize bias: An ongoing feedback process helps managers avoid biases like the recency effect, by providing a factual view of team performance. This encourages better management practices.
- Better collaboration: A formalized feedback loop elicits continuous sharing of ideas and inputs. For example, most continuous feedback mechanisms incorporate 360 degrees feedback from relevant stakeholders. This fosters a collaborative culture.
- Better career path: Open dialogue helps managers understand their teams better and thus allows for better career discussions based on personal and professional aspirations and milestones.
- Cultivate a coaching culture: It helps fine tune managerial skills by encouraging managers to become coaches, rather than mere supervisors. Organizations must train their managers on how to evaluate performance and how to conduct feedback conversations (even the tough ones).
- Better engagement, better performance: Continuous feedback creates a culture of trust by forging stronger employer-employee bonds and allowing open communication. This further improves employee engagement levels, and boosts productivity.
Many companies are already implementing feedback systems, check-in software, and formalizing 1:1 performance conversations. Continuous feedback should be a continuous commitment. The top management should show commitment to the process. By being transparent, open, and collaborative, leaders can show that they value the process. Only then can organizations expect to reap the real benefits.