Performance Review: Feedback Has to Happen More than Once A Year—Here’s One Way to Get Started

Appraisal Form And PaperworkPerformance review is a hot topic in management circles these days.  About the best thing anyone has to say is that it is a necessary evil—with most people calling for a complete rethinking of the process.

In a new article for The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Ignite newsletter, leadership expert Scott Blanchard identifies one flaw with the current process that has to be addressed—the amount of time between reviews.

“Offering feedback only once a year makes it hard to provide people with meaningful or actionable information,” says Blanchard. “Feedback needs to happen a lot more often than once a year. Our research shows a 30-point gap between how often people want to receive feedback and how often they are currently receiving it.”

Blanchard believes part of the solution is to encourage wrapping up conversations—informal discussions between manager and direct report in which they acknowledge the completion of a project, task, or goal and honorably conclude it before moving on to the next one.

In Blanchard’s experience, the fast pace of business today requires managers and teams to race toward a goal. But as soon as they attain it, and before anyone has the time to honor, celebrate, or even take a deep breath, they jump to the next one.

“The wrapping up conversation gives managers and direct reports a chance to look back and savor success as well as learn from mistakes. It’s a way to reflect, process the experience, and gain knowledge before starting another project.”

For managers interested in exploring the use of wrapping up conversations with their direct reports, Blanchard suggests three ways to make your wrapping up conversations effective.

  • Begin by endorsing the person and celebrating the achievement. Ask how the person feels about the goal or project. For example, you might ask what the direct report thinks went well and what they learned from doing the project.
  • Discuss the results and their impact on the team. Focus on the benefit that was derived or the learnings that occurred as a result of the project.
  • Ask about possible areas for improvement. If something could have been handled differently, be willing to tell your truth. Be sure to listen for wisdom gained and to inquire about personal development. Remember to finish by expressing confidence in the direct report.

Blanchard encourages managers not to wait for an organizational solution to performance review issues.

“If after every significant piece of work managers and direct reports have an informal wrapping up conversation to talk about what has been learned or achieved, it will enhance the quality of their relationship. When you create that kind of dialogue you set up a situation where goals are clear, performance management is improved, and everyone performs at a higher level.”

PS: Interested in learning more about new approaches to performance review? Blanchard will be conducting a free webinar, Rethinking Performance Review: Introducing the Wrapping Up Conversation, on March 23.  There is no charge for the event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.

3 thoughts on “Performance Review: Feedback Has to Happen More than Once A Year—Here’s One Way to Get Started

  1. David, thanks for the excellent suggestions.

    “Offering feedback only once a year makes it hard to provide people with meaningful or actionable information,”

    I agree completely but then again I am not a typical manager who hates giving any feedback at any time.

    If we want managers to give timely feedback, then we need to hire managers who will give timely feedback.

    Who we hire determines the behaviors our managers will exhibit.

    • Hi Bob–that’s an interesting point–are some people more likely to give feedback than others? My intuition says “yes” so it looks like a two-pronged approach might be in order: Consider communication skills when choosing who to promote into manager positions and develop the skills of people already in those positions. Thank you for your comment–what have others experienced?

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