If you’ve been holding formal employee performance evaluations once every year, usually in early January, then you’re not alone. This traditional review cycle has been the standard for a long time, and plenty of businesses still manage employees using this strategy.
But it may be time for an upgrade, one that better reflects the realities of modern work life and effective employee coaching. Here are a few reasons to drop the old model and embrace a review schedule with more flexibility and frequency.
It’s more memorable.
If you sit with your employee in January and give a directive, for example, “Here’s how to handle a crisis that’s likely to surface once a year, if ever”, you can’t expect your instructions to be remembered when the moment arrives and it’s time to apply them. That’s just not reasonable. But if you deliver you guidance, mentoring, tips, directives, and coaching prescriptions once every quarter or so, they’re more likely to stick.
It’s more actionable and fair.
The same way you wouldn’t issue a directive six months in advance, you can’t reasonably deliver correction and coaching six months after the fact. Watching an employee make a mistake in June and waiting until January to lecture her about it won’t fly. She’ll resent this treatment, and rightly so. Instead, stop her at the moment and deliver your feedback and coaching informally—On the spot if possible. An extra bonus: she won’t keep repeating the mistake over and over for the next six months while you check the calendar and wait.
It gives you an opportunity to observe and praise improvements.
If you had to scold or criticize someone during their once-annual formal evaluation, the moment may have been awkward for both of you. Such moments can be so uncomfortable or discouraging that they often start the wheels in motion that eventually push the employee to seek work elsewhere. Here’s how the old model works: In January, you shine a light on a performance issue. By May the employee is struggling to correct it and simultaneously keeping an eye out for new job opportunities. By June she gets an offer and by July she’s gone. Here’s the new model: In January you deliver your critique. By May you see clear improvements and deliver a new evaluation with a very different tone. By July the employee is fully back on track, up to speed, and thriving.
It helps you reap the benefits of positive feedback.
Positive feedback oils the gears of the employee-employer relationship. If your team is like a garden of plants, your encouragement falls on them like fresh rain. So don’t put it off! Water those plants as often as possible. Formally, informally, in quick meetings or drawn-out sessions, if they’re doing well, let them know!
For more on how to coach and evaluate your teams, turn to the pros at PSU.