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How Frequent Feedback Can Improve Performance Management

Companies have started implementing shorter cycles of feedback in place of the usual annual reviews, to put in place more flexibility and actionable goals for both managers and employees. Here is how it can be done.

Embedding career conversations into a company’s organisational culture

Over the last few years, many notable businesses have started to phase out traditional performance reviews. Dell, Accenture, GE, New York Life and Adobe – to name a few – have all moved toward frequent check-ins, touchpoints and coaching for employees.

There are two main benefits to having regular career conversations: They enable a learning culture, and are correlated to an increase in employee engagement and productivity. In a Right Management survey, 82% of respondents said they would be more engaged in their work if their managers had regular career conversations with them.

Without such conversations, employees are not able to see growth or opportunities to explore. Organisations will lose those employees because they are not in sync with their aspirations. Hence, managers play an important role to help employees take ownership of their careers.

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There is a positive relationship between employee engagement and regular career conversations. When employees actively think about self-development and career aspirations, higher productivity, engagement, and retention will be the outcomes.

Companies can consider these strategies when employing such frequent feedback cycles:

Discuss short and long-term career goals

The annual performance review may ask where employees see themselves in one, two or five years. The shorter review cycle provides an opportunity to consider not just job titles, but rather roles and projects within an organization. For example, an employee may want to explore learning a specific job skill for a shorter period of weeks or months, and then reflect and consider how that skill fits into larger future goals. By having regular conversations about career goals, they could stand to gain useful skills that may value-add to longer-term career goals.

One way to visualise a career is through the idea of learning journeys. A new employee has a learning journey, and so does someone who has been at the organization for 10 or 20 years – they have different training needs at different times. Thinking about careers as a learning journey can help to map and integrate soft skills and technical skills picked up over time, and visualise how they come together. Through frequent conversations, a manager can help employees understand where they are in the learning journey for their careers.

Be flexible – when necessary

It can be readily apparent early on in a project whether performance metrics will be met, exceeded, or fall short. The same is true of employee performance. The benefit of frequent check-ins with managers is that goal metrics can be adjusted. A manager should be cautious of adjusting the goalposts too much, but a goal can be dynamic over time. Adjusting upward, downward or deciding to stay the course will be more motivating than a static goal off in the distance.

Consider autonomy, mastery and meaning

The core principles of motivational goal setting still apply. Companies need to abandon the binary choice of moving up or moving out, and allow lateral moves into specialty areas. Check-in should celebrate growth by identifying skills that employees have mastered. Finally, reviews should provide insight into how contributions align to the strategic goals of the business. Reminding employees of autonomy, mastery and meaning on a regular basis will increase motivation for the long term.

 

While it is good to start rethinking performance reviews, companies must ensure the replacement system adapts to a meaningful new format, rather than becoming a series of mini annual reviews. With careful thought to the goals of performance management, a new method that benefits managers, employees and the company can emerge.

This article is contributed by Manpower Singapore

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