The annual performance review is often the most hated interaction to have between leaders and employees annually. It can be a review process that is tedious between finding time to write the review, scheduling the review, and meeting with the employee, but the interaction…well let’s just say that’s a whole other story!

Whether you are a leader of multiple people or one employee, you’ve probably gone into a performance review with sweaty palms, heart palpitations, a headache, or a lump in your throat.  These sensations are all related to the anticipated reaction to how the employee will respond to the feedback they are about to receive. Often, the leader comes into the performance review armed with evidence of performance issues (if any) if they can remember the details at all. Employees may come equally prepared with times where they have excelled, or when there were obstacles that prevented stellar performance. The whole process can become a battle of wits; and when it’s over, much of the unknown (surprises) have bubbled to the surface and both parties are left scratching their heads. There is, however, another way in which to have performance conversations that don’t leave both parties at odds.

Continuous Feedback

More and more organizations have opted to move away from standard annual performance reviews and move to continuous feedback models, which have proven to be effective in helping employees know where they stand in their performance year long. In lieu of the annual performance review, leaders and employees meet regularly to discuss goals, career objectives, day-to-day work-related issues, and discuss where performance can improve. If done right, the leader and employee may engage in a healthy debate over work-related issues that may impact performance and collaborate on solutions that have greater long-term positive impacts on the organization.

This kind of regular interaction always lets the employee and leader know where they stand, which is why it is so popular. Authentic conversations that happen regularly lead to an engaged workforce where people know that they are valued, appreciated, and have a say in the work they do. There is open and honest dialog, silos break down, conflict is reduced, collaboration happens, and relationships develop. More importantly, the employee has a forum where their needs or concerns are addressed, and their questions are answered real-time versus waiting until the “annual review.” It’s a conversation that happens often and becomes a habit for both the leader and the employee, which builds the relationship!

Still Conducting Annual Performance Review

If your organization isn’t quite ready to do away with the annual performance review process, leaders can still conduct continuous feedback conversations all year round to engage employees in healthy conversations around their performance and still build engaging relationships that enroll them in the work they do every day. How employees are performing stays fresh in the mind of the leader and employees alike, which makes writing and conducting the performance review less stressful because there are no surprises.

Whether an organization uses an annual performance review process or not, the structured feedback that employees receive regularly is a sound practice for creating environments of open communication that build trust and helps employees to develop in their career strategically. This practice leads to greater engagement, retention, and greater bottom-line results!

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