New Year, New Performance Management Process

New Year, New Performance Management Process

Why Your Firm Needs to Implement Continuous Feedback Now

group of asian colleagues collaborating around computers at open office spaceContinuous feedback and goal-based performance management strategies can help to more quickly and easily drive consistency in employee development and engagement in your organization. This modern approach is a key strategy for businesses that have employees constantly rotating on and off projects. Continuous feedback discussions can drive productive performance management conversations between employees and managers that in turn, can help to drive employee engagement, productivity, and even profitability.

We like to talk about continuous feedback at Deltek, the performance management method our teams use.  If you’re new to the continuous feedback method, it includes ongoing feedback between two or more parties. These active discussions provide opportunities to check-in, build relationships between employees and managers, foster innovation and creativity, and address action items or issues. Sessions can focus on various aspects of performance; such as initial feedback when a new hire joins the company, general check-ins throughout the year, project-based feedback around an employee’s involvement in a project, growth opportunities for the employee, progress tracking toward goals, salary discussions, and performance review discussions.

One of the top challenges facing firms cited in Deltek’s Clarity surveys year after year is “Employee Retention.” Poor retention results in the constant need for firms to recruit new employees, especially in fast-growing organizations. When organizations are stuck in recruitment mode, it can be nearly impossible to advance strategic initiatives that would actually have a positive impact on employee engagement and retention. It can be a vicious cycle if you get caught in it.

Consider this:

  • According to Gallup, only 30% of employees strongly agree that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress
  • Additional research shows that people aren’t motivated by outdated annual performance reviews. Only 21% of employees strongly agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work
  • Only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17%) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful

As managers and leaders, one of our top priorities is to maximize the output, productivity, and efficiency of our people.  We know the key to achieving this is retaining, engaged employees who know what to do and how to do it. So why are we not talking to our employees more regularly?  Often times, even when feedback is being provided, there are issues with the quality of that feedback.  Managers may be biased, causing their feedback to come across as being tinted with favoritism or inconsistent in terms of timing and delivery.  Feedback can be perceived as untimely, irrelevant, or lacking in specificity if it isn’t given at the right point in time (such as at the end of an employee’s engagement in a project).

Many managers and employees experience fear and discomfort around feedback discussions. Often there is uncertainty around how to broach topics that need to be covered or what type of reaction it will trigger when you do.  Some managers fear the effect of the discussion on their popularity and may feel uncomfortable with being direct and/or critical. These types of discussions are MUCH easier and more comfortable when the exchange is relevant, timely, and objective. This also helps to alleviate concerns around being too critical. Regular and consistent interactions can go a long way to help employees and managers develop a good rapport for making even difficult conversations less scary and intense.

My colleagues and I have benefited immensely from the continuous feedback model that we use. I know your employees will, too.