When it comes to annual performance reviews, very few employees or even managers actually look forward to it. Managers have to fill out lengthy and tedious forms for their entire team. Whereas employees dread these infrequent, one-sided appraisals.
Silicon Valley companies have led the way in replacing annual reviews with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees. Recently many companies such as IBM, GE, Dell, Microsoft, Adobe followed suit. They are now adopting shorter, more continuous feedback practices. These changes have created a huge impact on their business as well as in the workplace dynamics.
Do not expect managers to assign rankings and perform annual performance reviews. Instead focus on transforming the feedback process to meet the changing will of the workplace. This change is driven in part by the rising number of millennials in the workplace. However, feedback should not only be about individual’s strengths and achievements. It should also include their weaknesses and shortcomings.
BOOST feedback model is one such popular informal method. It is used to give constructive & continuous feedback about positive behaviour as well as rectifying shortcomings. It has been proven to identify and tackle specific performance issues before they escalate into major problems.
While it is human nature to focus on the negatives, such feedback cannot help an employee to improve his performance. Feedback should look at both positive and negative aspects of ones performance, not just one or the other. All achievements should be duly recognised and lauded, publicly and privately. It motivates employees to give their best every time. If there are any failures, along with pointing out the shortcomings, efforts should be taken to counsel such individuals. Together they can come up with suggestions for improvement. Performance can monitored on a regular basis to see if there is any change.
Balanced Feedback: “Congratulations on hitting your target of setting up 10 meetings in the month of June. Well done. As far as improvement is concerned, I did not see the weekly report from you in the last week of June. Let us make sure that we don’t miss out sending these updates on agreed frequency. Overall, keep up the good work.”
Incorrect feedback: “You did not send out the weekly report in last week of June. Such mistakes will not be tolerated.”
There are a couple of psychological biases of feedback that sometimes affect the manager’s decisions. Feedback should be based on the individuals actions and behaviour. It should be more objective and not based on the evaluator’s perception or personal opinion about any particular individual.
Objective Feedback: “You have achieved 80% of your targets for June which is a good start for a fresher. Follow these guidelines to the T and you may exceed those targets henceforth.”
Incorrect feedback: “I have always felt that you are not the right fit for completing this task. I guess that is why you achieved only 80% of your targets. At this rate you will achieve even less in the coming month I believe”
Feedback should be based on firsthand observations rather than reports from others or even your own feelings. Managers who are directly responsible for their team members have a more precise understanding of how a team member performs. They are thus able to give more constructive feedback based on their own observations.
On the other hand, if they rely on other people’s opinions, who are not directly involved in the evaluation process, the feedback will not reflect accurate information.
Observed Feedback: “The log of your daily attendance shows that you check-in late and check-out early. Although this doesn’t seem to have affected your weekly targets. Please make sure that you fulfil your mandatory number of hours per week.”
Incorrect feedback: “I’m hearing from your colleagues that you do not come on time to office and leave early. It appears you are not committed to your job”
Feedback should be specific and to the point. Do not give vague feedback about how the performance is “not upto the mark”. Instead share a detailed report of what was expected, what was delivered and where they felt short at delivering.
Specific Feedback: Consider an employee who is supposed to send out a daily report to his manager and fails to do so on a consistent basis. Feedback should specifically mention that, “X Report not shared with reporting manager in 3 consecutive days in second week of June 2017”
Incorrect Feedback: “Fails to carry out responsibilities”. This second statement paints a picture that the employee is inherently lazy or incompetent which may not be the actual case.
Feedback needs to be given more frequently than once a year, and ideally in the context of work. The person receiving the feedback should be told at the first opportunity and through the right channel.
Imagine if you were taking a trip to some distant place. You need to constantly keep a watch on the fuel meter to make sure that you will reach your destination. And yet have ample fuel left till you can find the next gas pump. You need a real time update of how much fuel is left in the car so that you can plan your remaining journey accordingly. If you don’t have this information, then you may get stranded in the middle of nowhere.
This analogy is applicable to the work place as well. Feedback needs to be given as soon as a particular task has been completed or a goal has been achieved. At this point of time all the intricate details of the work are fresh in both the manager and employee’s mind. It is therefore possible to have a more accurate feedback of the task accomplished.
Timely Feedback: “Report for last month should have been submitted last week. Please make sure that you do not exceed the deadline beyond a couple of days”
Incorrect feedback: “In December 2016, you failed to achieve your targets so it is going to affect your annual performance review. You could have taken your colleagues help”
As an informal feedback model, BOOST goes a long way in creating a culture of continuous feedback and increasing employee engagement. It helps managers and employees determine their shortcomings along with its reasons before being documented formally. Once it is noted formally, it can affect employees performance ratings and/or compensation in certain cases.