I’m on a quest to find an organisation with a truly continuous feedback process.

A feedback process which allows employees to give recognition, share feedback and coaching, create and align goals and collaborate…..all on a continual basis and in real-time.

My criteria may seem a tall order but I present it in response to the disillusionment expressed by many organisations about the ineffectiveness of their current feedback process.  “Irrelevant and out of date feedback”, “waste of time”, “time consuming”, “not engaging and meaningless” – Do these comments sound familiar?  

I’ve yet to come across a company that’s totally satisfied with the way their performance management process works. So why, then, do we continue to persevere with a process that’s ineffective and disliked by so many.

In my mind, a feedback process can only be truly continuous if it’s weaved into the daily work routine of employees.  After all it’s the day to day interactions between employees that drive performance and deliver results. By changing the way we interact with each other on a daily basis, feedback is no longer a distant relationship between manager and employee and collaboration is no longer scattered across email and instant messaging.  The result; a pool of meaningful and data.  Real-time data which can be used by the manager for on-going coaching and then be fed into the employee’s performance review.

There are a handful of companies who have started to rethink their process along these lines. This seems to have been out of necessity rather than choice.  A six month or annual review process just doesn’t suit a fast moving business environment where goals and priorities shift, sometimes rapidly.  A completely different approach to performance management is needed.  An approach where goals are aligned and transparent, feedback is in real-time and achievements are publicly recognised. In short, a bottom up approach to performance management which actually engages employees and where collaboration and openness are key components to success.  
This is a ‘social’ approach to performance management and one that amplifies already existing social behaviours. After all, isn’t the way we interact and communicate with each other the key to an effective feedback process?  Our channels of communication are changing fast; they’re becoming more instant every day. The ‘Social Revolution’ has changed the way we interact on a personal level and now, with the introduction of collaboration tools, it’s changing the way we interact on a professional level. So, is it time to align our performance management processes to accommodate this shift in behaviour?

Much of this does play into the hands of Generation Y (Millennials), a generation of ‘on demand’ learners who need feedback all the time.  They’ve grown up with an expectation of instantaneous response each time they tweet or post a message on Facebook. They expect the same environment in the work place.  I personally feel that Gen Y have been given a hard time – being called needy, demanding and selfish. Let’s instead see the positive qualities in their behaviour; employees seeking constant grow and continuous learning.  

So where does all this leave us in terms of formal reviews? Will there still be a need? There will always be a need for a one to one meeting between manager and employee but, with the use of a ‘social’ performance process, the performance review will take on a different meaning. There will be no dread, fear or panic. No scavenger hunt for out of date feedback or need to initiate a 360 degree survey. And most importantly, no hidden surprises. Employees already know how they’re doing.

Feedback and recognition have been continuous throughout the year, goals have been constantly aligned and updated in real-time and what’s more, learning has been on-going. So the annual review now becomes meaningful and relevant.

So, going back to my quest for a truly continuous and collaborative feedback process; could ‘social’ be the key?


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