“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.”
~ Michael J. Gelb
Five months into his job, Jeremy was in his usual upbeat mood, ready to dive into client portfolios, when his manager walked up to his cubicle and said the six words most employees dread to hear: “We need to discuss your performance.”
Jeremy felt butterflies flying in his stomach. Was he not doing a good job? Had he made a serious blunder? His formal performance review was months away; why the sudden meeting? With many questions racing through his mind, Jeremy gingerly sat in front of his manager.
Jeremy’s manager, Ben, maintained a serious disposition. He was never too quick to laugh at jokes, but he was a man of ethics, intelligence, and good conduct—and he commanded respect.
Ben reviewed his notes and started by commending Jeremy on areas where he had performed well. Jeremy felt more at ease. Ben then went on to talk about how in certain cases Jeremy had fallen short of expectations and provided hands-on positive feedback on how he could take steps to improve.
Ben drafted out a clear roadmap, an action plan, for Jeremy to follow.
At the end of meeting, Jeremy was enlightened and confused. He nervously asked, “Ben, did our performance reviews get expedited?” A rare smile spread across Ben’s face. “No,” he said. “You’ll still have a review at year-end. I find that constantly providing feedback helps in three ways. It keeps employees happy by helping them do a better job and reach their career goals faster, it helps the firm increase productivity levels on an ongoing basis, and it saves me time at the end of the year—all I need to do is recap.”
If you have employees under you, recognize the benefits of providing constant feedback. Here are ten steps you can take to provide feedback to your employees without waiting for the annual performance review:
Assess on a regular basis.
Assessment should happen on a frequent basis, not just once in a while. Provide progress evaluations every week during your one-on-ones if you’re able.
Provide continuous feedback.
Outside of your sit-down meetings, share ongoing feedback on a daily basis, or at least several times a week. Immediate feedback on a job well done or an area for improvement helps employees understand the advice they receive more clearly.
Identify solid performance.
Encourage a strong performance by communicating exactly what it looks like—and when employees achieve it.
Tackle problems immediately.
Tackle performance problems as they happen. Coach employees through how to handle them when they need assistance.
Keep clear records.
Maintain an employee performance log, jotting down details about what they’ve been doing well and where they need to enhance their skills. Be as specific as possible about achievements and issues.
Make yourself approachable by letting employees know how they should reach out to you, and work on communicating as clearly as possible.
Summarize areas of strength.
Make sure employees know what you perceive as their top strengths, sharing appreciation for the value they bring.
Highlight areas for improvement.
Convey the areas that employees need to work on strengthening, so they’ll know where to focus their efforts.
Develop a plan of action.
Work with the employee to develop a plan for success and offer solutions to the challenges they face.
Follow up every step of the way.
Don’t hold back in giving total support. Check in frequently, ensuring that employees know they can come to you with any questions.
Feedback isn’t positive or negative—it’s just feedback. Consult with an executive coach to open the lines of communication with your people and boost performance.