Redesigning Employee Performance Feedback

Written by Mike Poskey | Dec 10, 2018

Employee Feedback

In a results-driven business world, employee performance feedback often takes on the role of a harsh pep talk that does not lead to actual change or enhanced performance.

The outdated, once-a-year, formal performance review has proven to be ineffective. describes this type of review as a “relic of the industrial age.” It’s more ceremonial than delivering any type of real value to the employee and company.

Instead, consider the value in redesigning your employee performance feedback to be more consistent and frequent, objective and not subjective, and something that employees look forward to instead of dreading.

What’s Wrong with an Annual Performance Review?

From my experience talking to clients, I have discovered that the old style annual performance review is more harmful than beneficial:

  • Takes time for managers to prepare -- usually at the last minute scrambling to pull together information.
  • Filled with emotion, axes to grind, and political dynamics.
  • Typically based on subjectivity from one person’s perspective.
  • Can be a “data dump” presenting disconnected numbers and figures.
  • A crutch for inexperienced managers to provide feedback to their direct reports once per year.

This process also makes the employee feel anxious and nervous, putting them in the wrong thinking condition to receive the information and change behavior.

Also, because managers typically communicate something that is a surprise to the employee, the employee becomes even more defensive and unreceptive to the feedback.

The whole process is a frustrating experience for the manager preparing to give feedback and the employee bracing to receive it. Additionally, the company’s productivity typically suffers from the fallout of the employee becoming de-motivated.

What is the Modern Method to Provide Employee Feedback?

Effective employee feedback should take on these characteristics: frequent, relevant, and objective.

  • Frequency: rhythm of when to provide feedback and how to set expectations.
  • Relevancy: the importance of the feedback driving toward a goal; not being tossed out loosely that leaves room for defensiveness.
  • Objectivity: use of data to drive the conversation and create a positive feedback loop between manager and employee.

When you implement a consistent process for managers and employees to have critical conversations that eliminate surprises and defensiveness, you will realize these benefits:

  • A positive coaching and mentorship environment, rather than judging.
  • A more accurate employee performance evaluation.
  • Reduction in the amount of preparation time that otherwise would take away from the manager’s time in their primary role.
  • Lowered anxiety for the employee that otherwise reduces productivity leading up to the meeting.
  • Managers and direct reports on the same page about goals, expectations, and the future.
  • Employee support on their career path and their progress toward promotion.

Redesigned Employee Performance Feedback Will Help With Promotion and Realignment

In the old style of annual performance reviews, employees end up chasing the dangling carrot of a raise or a promotion. Then, when the annual review happens and the manager provides no feedback on the employee’s progress, the employee loses motivation. Based on my past client experience, this is a clear example of the absence of motivation leading to de-motivation.

When you implement a modern performance feedback method, employees know exactly where they stand in their career path and are productive in knowing what steps they need to take to achieve their goals, instead of being left in the dark about their progress.

This method also helps companies understand how to best manage employees. When you take a regular and relevant performance evaluation approach, you will be able to make more informed decisions on who and when to promote or whether to re-align an employee to a different role in the company.

- Promotion: Because managers are having more frequent conversations that are built on clear communication and expectations, this eliminates “lip service.” These conversations are based on showing results. Additionally, if you are trying to decide whether to promote someone, you can use these conversations to understand the employee’s motivations and use the data to see what they produce opposed to what they say they will produce.

Simply put, this approach helps reduce the risk of promoting someone to a role they may not be ready for. It can also validate or support why someone should be promoted.

- Re-alignment: Understanding the motivations and actions of an employee will help your managers understand where an employee might be a better fit in the company prior to placing this employee in a new role or releasing them to the market.

The Tools to Implement Redesigned Employee Performance Feedback

Consider these two tools to execute a new approach to performance evaluation:

  • EQ workshop: managers should be trained on how to assess the emotional intelligence competencies of their direct reports to unlock their motivations.
  • Manager Development Program: managers should be trained on how to increase their managerial effectiveness through effective communication with direct reports, e.g. employee performance.

We offer a Clear Direction Manager Development Program that helps managers understand how to have critical conversations with their direct reports, how to provide performance feedback in a healthy and productive manner, and manage their relationship with direct reports to drive productivity.

To get started on the manager development program in your company, contact us today to set up a consultation with our team.

About the Author

Mike Poskey

Mike Poskey is the President and CEO of ZERORISK HR and played a key role in the formation of the company. With more than 20 years of human resources consulting experience, Mike has worked with hundreds of executives, human resource, recruiting, staffing, and organizational development professionals to improve their hiring practices and employee development programs on various levels.

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