Imagine this: you've just had your annual performance review and your boss said you're doing a great job. (Yay you!) While the overall review was good, you walk out of that discussion wondering what exactly it is you need to do to get to the next level. Maybe you don't need to imagine this, as this scenario unfortunately plays out far too often. In fact, according to Saba's recent 2017 State of Employee Engagement Report, 54 percent of employees believe the current performance review and management process is not helpful when it comes to improving individual performance. Yikes!
When performance reviews lack timely, actionable feedback, they become a lost opportunity, both for the employee and the organization. When it comes to fostering employee growth and development in the workplace, there are a few things managers and talent leaders can do to help make the performance management process more effective.
Here are three ways to make performance feedback more actionable:
1. Provide continuous, real-time feedback
Let's be honest: when it's time to complete an annual performance appraisal, is a manager really able to take into account that employee's performance over the entire past year, or is it more likely they are just recalling that employee's performance over the last several weeks? Assuming the latter, how constructive can that really be to an employee from a professional development perspective?
In many organizations today, annual performance reviews are generally conducted with the purpose of supporting salary adjustments. This yearly or half-yearly process, however, isn't really all that effective when it comes to actually improving employee performance. For this reason, annual performance reviews are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Many industry-leading companies - including GE, Adobe and Microsoft - have ditched the annual performance review in favor of informal check-ins and continuous coaching. Even if your company isn't ready to take the plunge and abandon the formal annual performance review process, managers should still provide frequent, real-time feedback to employees on their performance.
2. Tie performance to training
When you deliver feedback to an employee on areas in need of improvement, it's important to also provide them with the resources they need to close those skills gaps. Otherwise, what's the point? By linking employee performance to relevant training, feedback becomes truly actionable. If an employee needs to improve his or her technical knowledge of your company's products or work on their presentation skills, for example, a manager can easily assign and track completion of relevant training courses within a learning management system (LMS).
3. Incorporate 360-degree feedback
On a day-to-day basis, many employees work with colleagues in various functions across the business more closely than they do with their own managers. For this reason, some of the most valuable feedback an employee can receive comes not from their direct manager, but from their peers. Talent leaders should encourage employees to regularly share feedback with each other, as well as enable managers to easily gather feedback from others involved in the employee's performance. To help facilitate this, many organizations are leveraging performance management platforms with built-in social feedback tools. By incorporating 360-degree feedback into the performance process, employees and managers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of specific opportunities for performance improvement.
To thrive in today's business climate, organizations need the most from their people, every day. With these tips for providing employees with more relevant, actionable performance feedback, organizations can better support employee development while also benefiting from a more competent and engaged workforce.