Design a Culture of Continuous Feedback and Recognition

We’ve all been there — the dreaded annual performance review, when you have to sit down and sum up a year’s worth of work within one document. Managers hate it because they are forced to try to remember all that their employees have accomplished that year. Employees dread it, as the process comes across as forced and insincere.

Over and over, it’s proven that employee productivity is directly tied to their engagement and motivation, yet trends show employee engagement is one of the hardest for organizations to achieve. This can often be due to a stale performance management strategy.

Traditional models of performance management, such as the annual review, are now considered outdated and do not work to increase engagement with the newest, and now largest, generation of workers — millennials. Is it because millenials are needy? No, it’s because millenials have a strong drive to make a direct impact on their organization and are intensely aware they must constantly improve to achieve their goals.

To meet this emerging need, organizations can develop a continuous performance feedback strategy. Here are some benefits:

  • Improves employee engagement and job satisfaction throughout the whole year.
  • Identifies potential problems/issues faster by having more frequent, and substantial, conversations.
  • Aligns employee goals with the company strategy by steering workers in the right direction and offering ongoing advice to help them succeed.
  • Maintains a positive environment by creating a culture people feel comfortable giving and receiving constructive feedback and praise.

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Here’s how to get started.

Set up Weekly One-on-One Meetings. According to Gallup, simply holding regular meetings with millenials to discuss feedback and improvement can increase engagement by more than half. This helps employees feel their employers are invested in their careers, and therefore, they become more invested in the work. Use this weekly time to give instant feedback, praise good work, and discuss issues that have surfaced within the past week.

Meet Every Quarter to Discuss Career and Company Goals. Weekly check-ins work great to address current issues and develop strong manager-employee trust, but where they can lack is depth of career coaching. All employees (regardless of generation) want to discuss their career path at least once a year or once a quarter. Setting up a deeper career check-in point each quarter let’s employees know they are being supported. Their motivation goes up and their loyalty strengthens.

Ask for Opinions Regularly. Continuous feedback is a two-way street. Whether it’s by survey, or informal discussion, asking for regular feedback from your employees can go a long way in boosting employee morale. They feel heard, and the results can help improve your own management style.

Focus on Individual Employee Support. While setting up a structured system for continuous feedback is imperative for success, personalization has also become a key part of creating a delightful employee experience. A one-size-fits-all management approach won’t bring out the best in your employees, as we are all different individuals. The key is to ask for feedback, understand different employee motivations, and provide your employees with more options for success.

The evidence is clear: annual performance reviews are simply no longer an effective way to manage feedback in the workplace. Your employees don’t want a one-time, impersonal, encounter. They want ongoing conversations. Today’s employee wants an authentic relationship with their manager and the opportunity to always be improving.

Mary Kristynik

Mary Kristynik
Mary Kristynik, CCWP, is the principal owner of Greywood Consulting LLC. She has more than 20 years' experience in the industry. She can be reached at mary (at) greywoodconsultingllc (dot) com.

Mary Kristynik

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