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Continuous Feedback in Performance Management System – Is it relevant?

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself”

-Elon Musk

Many organizations have been built with their employees’ great performance. The employee performance is influenced by so many factors such as knowledge, skills, financial motivators, personal drive, etc. As quoted by Elon, feedback undoubtedly is an influencing factor which paves the way to optimize performance. And it is one of the Success Mantras of many achievers across the globe.

This is one of the major aiding tools just like a compass for a sea traveler. Without feedback, an individual may not even know if his personal or professional ship is sailing in the right direction. So, what is continuous feedback? How does it help an individual to improve his or her performance which is connected with the organization’s bottom line? We will discuss these factors in this blog.

What is Continuous Feedback on Performance?

Continuous feedback is a routine communication channel between Management (may be the immediate Supervisor) and Employee to provide and receive employee performance inputs.

Challenges

Let’s see the industrial challenges that necessitate Continuous Feedback:

  1. Recency Effect: Managers remember 2 – 4 weeks happenings for an employee (more team members, less remembered)
  2. Performance surprises during periodical feedback
  3. Ambiguous performance expectations
  4. Absence of periodical monitoring and corrective actions
  5. Employee engagement – The major challenge
  6. Missing employees connect and recognition
  7. Employee lacks a digi-platform to escalate performance issues
  8. High turn-over among unengaged employees

So, how do we address these issues? Should we devise systematic processes? Invest in technology? Introduce disciplinary procedure? Get the attention from leadership team?

A blend of all the above will make the day for any HR Business Partner.

Why not surveys?

Surveys are the best when it comes to a common factor such as seeking employee opinion about a new initiative inside the organization, or feedback about an event or team; mostly the questions are common for all respondents purported to unearth the merits and demerits. But for employee performance, it is driven either by the business function or individual employee and his goals. And this is where Continuous Feedback becomes super-significant.

Industry trends

As organizations move away from Normalization (Bell Curve), Performance Ratings and Rankings practice, there are companies that are either using or moving to an on-going feedback environment rather executing annual feedback process.

A McKinsey study found that companies such as GE, Gap and Adobe Systems have moved away from ratings, rankings and annual reviews that they built in years. They are building objectives that are dynamic than annual goals with frequent feedback discussions rather than annual or semi-annual ones.

Types:

There are multiple types of continuous feedback that help an organization to improve its employee performance. Major ones are:

  1. Reward – (example: Monthly Star Performer)
  2. Appreciative feedback – (example: “good job on the Quality audit, last week)
  3. Feedback against employee goal – (example: “goal A is progressing well; kindly work on goal B”)
  4. Development inputs – (example: “please work on your negotiation skills; you may attend internal training program”)

Visibility:

A Reward or Appreciative feedback can be announced publicly so that all employees in the organization are aware and are inspired whereas Developmental input is to be shared in private.

Process

It is time to frame a process that suits your organizational Performance Management System strategy, culture and vision with the below characteristics:

  1. Continuous feedback can happen with short intervals such as weekly, fortnightly or monthly
  2. Supervisor engages with the employee through a one on one mode to discuss the current status, unearth challenges and understand guidance/assistance required                                            
  3. Record the above inputs and used for analysis and reporting purposes using digital platform
  4. Enable Continuous feedback page/wall for reference during Performance Feedback for effective feedback and eliminate the recency effect

Implementation challenges

The process calls for leadership drive to ensure that the message is loud and clear to each employee.  A strategic approach keeping below in mind will really help since the initiative calls for organizational cultural change:

  1. Cultural gear shift
  2. Technology and Process blend
  3. Visibility and Accountability
  4. Employee engagement initiatives through feedback types with a positive vibe
  5. Remember and reinforce that People are the Heart of the system

Benefits of Continuous Feedback:

Who/ Where am I? Performer, Improver, Excellent Performer; Performance whereabouts are identified and results predicted

Clarity in expectationsknowing where to go completes half of the journey

Removes Recency Effect – Manager refers continuous feedback wall during periodical reviews as well as does not have to remember employee performance factors

Mid-flight corrections – add/modify goals and carry out immediate corrective actions to bring the train back to the rails with constructive feedback

Continuous engagement tool – A non-monitory tool engaging employees through the year

Rewards & Recognition – when Recognition happens as part of Continuous Feedback that inspires all

Employee is not left alone – Employee seeks Managerial intervention anytime, anywhere using a mobile app; this ensures that the employee’s voice is heard

Role of ManagerCoach / Mentor to remove performance bottlenecks

A Deloitte’s study (2017) signifies the role of the Managers by placing him at the heart of the Performance Management System process – continuous feedback. It also insists on training managers to be full-time Coach rather than part-time evaluators; they are expected to focus heavily on leadership development, feedback, coaching and collaboration.

Positive Workforce – The workforce becomes agile and collaborative, highlights Shankar Krishnamoorthy the CEO of Synergita in his article. Why Continuous Feedback Is Important For Enhancing Employees’ Performance?

ROI

According to CEB estimates a company with 10,000 employees will spend upwards of $35 million annually on traditional performance reviews with lesser results compared to the businesses that have applied a continuous process have reported a 30 percent drop in employee turnover, impressive engagement levels and increased productivity.

Conclusion

The Performance Management System world is moving towards Analytics, AI, ML, Sentiment analysis, etc. Still, the Continuous Feedback is a boon in the modern HR Arena by all means which is proven. If put in a proper framework in any organization, Continuous Feedback will lead to optimized performance of happy employees.

Are you ready to implement?

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