Most of all employees know it: the annual review. This is the dreaded performance review together with your boss to walk through your accomplishments and targets for the past year. Generally you will also talk about some areas where you need improvements and the trainings to participate for the coming year. But, does this really make sense to talk about performance gaps or training gaps that had occurred months before under concrete circumstances?
Many managers admit that they do not maintain an ongoing dialog with their team members. Therefore the annual review is sometimes the only meeting a year where you can go in detail through all the things that had happened over the year. The annual review will not provide a closed loop and no direct feedback. Actually it is much too late for possible corrective action.
On the other hand companies often have installed a continuous improvement process to be competitive and gain operational excellence over time. Obviously this continuous improvement process is not applied for improvement and development of their employees. Of course, it is possible to describe the annual review as a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (a continuous improvement cycle) with a cycle time of one year, but a cycle time of one year is much too long. In addition to that, companies often do not have an effective communication structure in place to let employees communicate their wishes, needs and proposals.
Having learnt that the annual performance review is a slow, antiquated and low efficient feedback process, it would make sense to install a fast and dialogue based continuous feedback process. This process can be designed to:
- support everyone’s personal needs
- to be low time consuming
- integrate the team
- provide efficient results
- support innovations
An easy way to do so is to have brief weekly feedback conversations not more than 15 minutes but be prepared to ask the right questions. A set of four questions would be sufficient as proposed in the blog “The 15 Most Important Minutes Of The Work Week” by Lydia Dishman:
- What did I do this week to help another member of my local team?
- On a scale of 0 to 10, how happy were you at work this week?
- Did you learn anything new or awesome this week that you’d like to try or share with the team?
- What aspect of our company do you worry about the most?
Answering these or similar questions could lead into minor or major “innovation ideas” that can be developed by the team. Possible gaps in skills or performance to implement these improvements could be identified immediately and countermeasures could be set in a short closed loop. Monitoring carefully the output of this continuous feedback process should provide good overview over the team and every individual team member for the supervisor. Perhaps a continuous feedback process will not replace the annual reviews completely, but it will provide massive improvements to the skills and performance of the team.