Scott Russell is a certified Human Capital Strategist and Regional Manager at Halogen Software covering the UK.
Recently, I had lunch with a friend of mine. Amid the savoury smells and sounds of the local Indian restaurant, we talked about current events, life — and work of course. After all, how can you possibly avoid talking about work? Most of us spend 40 hours a week working. When I asked how his new job was going, he said, “I honestly have no idea.” I have to admit that I was shocked.
“Hasn’t your manager given you any feedback about your performance?” I said, over some spicy vegetable curry. “No,” he replied. “Not a word.”
Unfortunately, this lack-of-feedback scenario is all too common in many organisations. Call it unfortunate, call it a shame, call it whatever you want but, at the end of the day what you really should call it, is wrong. Why? Because study after study tells us that people crave feedback. They need it to develop, grow and thrive in their careers. If employees are starved for feedback too often, you might see them heading for the closest door and into the welcoming embrace of your leading competitors.
Before this happens in your organisation, ask yourself this important question, “Do we support a feedback-rich culture in our company?” If you can honestly answer yes (a real yes, not a tepid one), then you can stop reading right now. If there’s any doubt at all, continue reading for some tips on giving meaningful performance feedback to employees.
Tip 1: Make employee performance reviews more frequent
Adding quarterly reviews as part of your performance management process gives managers and employees a committed time interval for sharing feedback and discussing any issues. These quarterly reviews needn’t be as involved (or lengthy) as the annual performance review. The goal is to provide a somewhat structured meeting for sharing feedback and for checking on goal progress.
Tip 2: Collect feedback from multiple sources
Gathering feedback from others provides a broader and more objective view of an individual, and helps managers and employees get a more accurate picture of performance. Consider requesting feedback from another manager or supervisor with whom the employee interacts. Even solicit feedback from a third-party who has knowledge of the employee’s strengths — and weaknesses, too. A more thorough approach involves gathering multirater, 360-degree feedback from the employee’s peers, other line managers and clients (if applicable).
Tip 3: Encourage ongoing feedback and coaching on performance
Managers should support their employees’ performance and drive engagement by giving employees ongoing feedback, coaching and recognition. This can be accomplished several ways, including:
- weekly one-on-one meetings, in-the-moment feedback and coaching
- regular recognition and praise for accomplishments
- detailed notes on performance, accomplishments and challenges all year round
Ongoing performance conversations means that challenges can be discussed and explored in a timely way, and managers and employees have a shared understanding of expectations. It also makes performance reviews easier for employees and managers, as they have an accurate and detailed record to consult.
The good news…
While some of these tips might seem a little daunting at first, focus on the outcomes. When you experience the benefits of a more feedback-rich culture, you’ll know the effort was worth it. The good news? There’s still time to incorporate these tips into your 2014 employee performance management planning.