Why Continuous Feedback Is More Effective Than Annual Reviews

Performance Management Evolves

Employees Want Continuous Feedback

  • 96% of employees say regular feedback is a good thing
  • 83% of employees want feedback whether it’s positive or negative
  • Employees who want monthly feedback has increased by 89% since 2018

Continuous Feedback and Employee Engagement

Continuous Feedback For Continuous Improvement

  • Managers aren’t giving regular feedback. With a traditional review structure, managers may not take the opportunity to show praise or offer direction at the moment. By the time they get around to these items at an annual review, they’re likely too far in the past for employees to remember the specifics. Similarly, bringing up an issue from eight months ago is even less likely to carry much weight in performance discussions. Plus, employees miss out on relevant learning opportunities and several months’ worth of performance improvement.
  • The people providing the feedback don’t actually manage the individual. It’s not uncommon for reviews to be given by the HR department or upper management — people who aren’t actually working day-to-day with the reviewee. If the person giving feedback doesn’t typically interact with the employee, the feedback is either second-hand or from a skewed perspective. Feedback given in this manner is not usually accurate or productive.
  • Managers don’t know how to evaluate performance. Often, managers never receive training on how to assess performance, give feedback, or charter a developmental plan. This can lead to an unproductive conversation where employees feel like they are talking to a stranger rather than their manager.
  • You’re trying to squeeze too much into one meeting. Annual performance reviews can have a jam-packed agenda. Trying to cover a full year of performance into one conversation means there’s a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. This leads to important topics getting merely a cursory discussion, and critical talking points can slip through the cracks.
  • Address problems and praise in real-time. Performance conversations that happen daily are much more effective and less tense. Continuous feedback provides practical training opportunities employees can apply immediately to their work. Timely recognition for a job well done shows your employees that you’re keyed in and improves engagement.
  • Advise immediate supervisors to use continuous performance management methods. Eliminating annual reviews doesn’t have to be the only answer to improved performance management. Ensuring that employees receive specific feedback from managers regularly — at least once per week — is a big step toward a more effective system.
  • Train managers on how to give effective continuous feedback. Your managers must know how to deliver feedback productively and feel comfortable doing so. Open communication and two-way conversations are an important part of building relationships between managers and employees. So, training management on how to deliver feedback, suggest improvements, and facilitate input is a core aspect of your review process.
  • Restructure formal reviews to focus on goal-setting and employee development. There’s still a place for annual or mid-year reviews, but the focus should be reframed. Instead of specific feedback, help employees set goals for their role and understand how their work goals align with business objectives. Managers can also help employees set career goals and create a professional development plan. Focus on more long-term, high-level goals than specific performance measures that are better addressed in real-time.

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Meredith Wholley

Meredith Wholley

As a Digital Marketing and Events Manager for ClearCompany, Meredith coordinates best-practice content and brand-awareness events with HR practitioners.