This is especially true for millennials who expect their corporate partners to be real, genuine, to stand for something. The days of putting out a lame slogan and hoping to catch a few gullible pushovers is gone.
There are many reasons for this of course – the ubiquity of advertising, increased online transparency, the rise of micro-influencers, and so on, but the two biggest reasons are the Internet generally and social media specifically; we are living at a time when anyone has a platform to say anything and that means that feedback is immediate.
The rise of immediate feedback has had ripple effects in the office as well.
Not only do employees expect (and maybe even welcome) feedback, they also expect to be able to give it. Gone too are the days when a manager could threaten to put his cigarette out on my forehead and I would have no recourse. (A true, if sad, story.)
For employers, giving feedback has become almost critical, because feedback is a proven way to increase employee morale and engagement. And engagement needs increasing. Get this: According to Gallup, in 2019, only 35% of employees felt “engaged” (and that was a 20-year high). Maybe worse, 13% felt “actively disengaged.”
As such, many large companies are ditching the standard yearly review and instead are conducting what is being termed, a “continuous feedback loop.” A feedback loop essentially is an ongoing conversation between the employee and the employer as to how the worker is doing, feeling, performing and whether those things are meeting both parties’ expectations.
It begins with, of course, evaluating the employee’s work. One way to gauge this is to have SMART goals:
The idea is to set clear expectations for the employee while concurrently giving the manager concrete objectives by which to evaluate the employee’s performance.
What these companies want, and what you should consider, is to create an ongoing, regular exchange of ideas that gives each side thoughtful feedback geared towards meeting company objectives.
The main difference here is that while the often-dreaded yearly performance review is just that – a yearly event – a continuous feedback loop is an ongoing process that allows both the manager and the worker to make small changes and course corrections as needed (as opposed to the more zero-sum process of a good or bad, up or down, yearly evaluation.)
Therefore, to be successful, the feedback loop needs to be an ongoing process, otherwise it defeats the purpose. Indeed, a performance review for something that occurred many months in the past is likely of little value.
So, instead of the yearly written evaluation and sit-down, consider regular check-ins and one-on-ones between the boss/manager and the employee. These need not take long and can even be casual; they may even be better if kept more casual, as that makes it a more organic process.
For managers, this pivot should be welcome. With ongoing feedback being given, they can expect to put out fewer fires, have happier, more directed employees, and spend less time on “yearly evaluation week.”
For the worker, they should know better what is expected of them and can also expect happier higher-ups, given there will be less guessing, and happily, less second-guessing.
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned. All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.
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