The concept of “continuous performance feedback” is becoming increasingly popular in HR. The idea is that continually providing feedback to employees on their work behaviors is a better way to keep them engaged and focused on goals instead of a regularly scheduled review. Some argue that these smaller periods of time between check points can be more effective for employee’s development. However, since continuous feedback is still an emerging trend concrete guidelines have not yet been established. Many wonder how to get started, what tools they need to use, and what the overall process looks like. Here, we outline some basic steps in implementing a continuous feedback program and how the EchoSpan tool supports these activities.
How do I get started?
If you already have a feedback process or annual performance review in place, getting started is easy. There are no strict rules around the definition of “continuous.” You can begin by simply adding one or two more check points into your process. For instance, if employees currently receive an annual review you can review them bi-yearly, quarterly, or after each project or client engagement. Eventually, your employees and managers will find what works best for them and you can adapt your new continuous process based upon that feedback. You may find that a weekly review and meeting is best for them or you might find that quarterly reviews are more realistic with employee’s and manager’s schedules. The most important thing is to start the process and then you can make adjustments from there. If you are using an agile, customizable tool like EchoSpan making changes on your own should be nearly effortless. Adjustments may include altering the length of reviews or tailoring the behavioral items to the specific project or task that the employee is working on at that point in time.
Isn’t this too many reviews?
Your employee’s and manager’s time is valuable and most will not have time to do a formal review continually. A more practical approach may be to do a formal review yearly or quarterly and then use a development planning tool that employees and managers can use together throughout the year to measure progress on goals and progress on developmental areas. The development plan will also help to create a structure around the scheduled meetings and further increase the need for consistent checkpoints. The EchoSpan tool has a built in development planner and of the clients that use it, 98.5% of them renew their subscription yearly which shows they are more committed and successful with their review process.
Do I need a special tool for this?
Since continuous feedback is a new trend in the HR industry, there are many young tools that have joined the market. However, you do not need a specialized tool to create a culture of continuous feedback in your organization. Continuous feedback is more about the feedback process that you put in place and how invested your employees and managers are in that process. Some employees dread their annual review, but many employees also do not see value in feedback that simply says, “Nice job!” on a daily basis. With the EchoSpan 360-feedback tool, you can easily clone one of your current reviews and run that review more often and create a hybrid of continuous feedback and traditional feedback. A popular, cost-effective choice among users is to use unlimited licenses and review employees as many times as they want throughout the year. At any point, managers are able to get an overview of how their employees are doing on their manager dashboards.
What about reports?
Traditional 360-feedback provides employees with scores that help identify professional strengths and development opportunities. With continuous feedback, the objective is more about constant development, but reports still have their place. Many of our clients review their employees on the same competencies multiple times throughout the year and then utilize a report component that shows scoring trends over time. By doing so, managers can see if employees are progressing or regressing in certain areas and if the feedback they have received between review periods has been effective.
The bottom line on adjusting your review process is that small changes can have big impacts. If you want to follow the trend of continuous feedback, don’t start by ditching your entire current process, but rather, make small changes to it. Once you decide on a new process test it out with a group of managers who are already heavily invested in the feedback process so they can evaluate the new process for you and help other managers adopt the new process with their employees. Listen to your employees and managers and make observations about what works in your organization and build your review process around that- your colleagues will thank you for it.