When used often enough, these two simple words can change an office culture, an employee’s career path, and a worker’s level of engagement. Study after study shows that an increasingly high percentage of employees are disengaged in their jobs. In fact, it is estimated that 55% of employees are not engaged/apathetic about their work and an additional 26% are actively disengaged, leaving a very small portion of the population feeling passionate about their careers.
While annual performance reviews used to provide the status quo for what employees expected in terms of getting feedback, the idea of receiving a review only once a year now seems completely obsolete. Although biannual or quarterly 360 assessments are useful for providing quantitative data to identify strengths and development areas, they should also provide the trigger for action planning, goal-setting, and conversations with colleagues on a regular basis throughout the year.
As the Office of Personnel Management explained it, “’You’re cold! Now you’re getting warmer! You’re HOT!’ Even children playing the popular ‘Hot or Cold’ game know that to perform well, people need to be told how they’re doing. Without feedback, you’re walking blind. At best, you’ll accidentally reach your goal. At worst, you’ll wander aimlessly through the dark, never reaching your destination.” Here are a few reasons why annual performance reviews are a way of the past and consistent feedback is the way of the future:
- It’s timely: People change, situations change, and objectives change. A goal set after receiving your initial feedback could be surpassed and lead to new ambitions, and a rater’s comment about a situation could be irrelevant in a month’s time! Therefore, when aiming for continuous improvement, timely feedback is the most accurate feedback.
- It’s consistent: It’s all too common to receive your feedback – whether through a more formal 360 process or through a performance discussion with your boss – and put it on the back-burner. Out of sight, out of mind! However, with monthly, bimonthly, or even weekly discussions, the idea of continuous growth is always at the forefront of your mind and daily goal-setting.
- It builds accountability: Knowing that feedback is an ongoing process – as opposed to a one-time annual exercise – builds accountability. Just as students set goals and expect their performance to be monitored and graded, so should employees. This creates a stronger commitment and determination to accomplish more.
- It increases engagement: Having someone – whether it be a direct manager, a coach), or simply a coworker – who shows continued and genuine interest in your personal growth and development is a top factor in increasing employee engagement.