The Benefits of Ongoing Feedback

July 17th, 2017

Traditional approaches to employee performance evaluation typically focus around one central event: the yearly review. Once a year, employees and managers meet for a one-on-one session in which the employee is praised for the year’s accomplishments and coached and criticized regarding “areas in need of improvement”. During the critique portion of the review, mistakes from the ancient past tend to be rehashed, and setbacks that occurred months ago are subject to scrutiny, the assignment of blame, and questions like “What resources could I have provided that would have helped to prevent this from happening?”

Employees approach the session with anxiety, hoping for a “good” review and dreading a bad one. Managers typically resent the process as well, since it can be overdramatized, socially awkward, and damaging to a relationship built on professional friendship and trust. So if this process sounds familiar—and unpleasant—why not try a new approach this year? Here are some reasons to deliver feedback all year long instead of saving it up for New Years.

Toss out the drama.

The tension and high stakes of an annual performance review benefit nobody. Being put under a spotlight six months after the fact won’t help employees better enjoy the fruits of their victories, and it won’t help them learn from past mistakes. But it will make them uncomfortable. Leave the letter grading system in high school where it belongs, and treat your employees like responsible adults, not students sweating over a test.

Real-time feedback has greater impact.

If an employee botches a presentation or misses an opportunity, sit down with them and discuss the error immediately. Better yet, don’t even sit down; just point it out in the moment (in private of course), issue corrections and coaching on the spot, and move on. The reasons for the stumble will be fresh in the employee’s mind, and she/he will be better able to identify and manage these reasons when they arise in the future.

Real time feedback is easier to remember and process.

If you exchange just a few words with your employee every day or a few times per week, then by the end of the year, you will have dispensed hundreds of tips, guidelines, wisdoms and meaningful corrections. But if you try to pack a year’s worth of comments and coaching into a one-hour session and then drop it on your employee like a load of concrete, very little of your message will actually get through. Takeaways and action items are the most important part of any feedback session. Keep them flowing all year long and you’ll see steady and continual growth.

For more on how to keep your employees engaged, committed, and constantly learning, turn to the Cleveland County staffing and management team at PSU.

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