How real-time feedback makes performance reviews easier

HR practitioners and experts have been debating the effectiveness of the annual performance review for close to a decade. As a result, companies everywhere are seeking innovative solutions that will transform their traditional processes into continuous performance management.

Real-time feedback has also become a popular practice. In fact, industry experts like Josh Bersin of Deloitte confirm that performance management has really been about feedback all along—we just haven’t been doing it right.

Here’s why you should start introducing real-time feedback into your performance review process.

Regular feedback paints a more accurate picture of performance

When it’s time to sit down and write someone a review, managers will brainstorm specific moments throughout the year to reference. From critical moments to little habits, managers need to have a strong understanding of how their direct reports perform in order to give them advice on how to improve.

But how can they remember these specific episodes, how they played out, and the impact they had if they date from 6 months or even 2 weeks ago? Real-time feedback is all about capturing those specific moments so managers can accurately piece together the larger picture in a review. With regular feedback to reference, managers can observe patterns and trends in each of their direct reports, making it that much easier for them to zero-in on what’s the most relevant, and provide better feedback during their reviews.

Instant feedback is faster to write than performance reviews

One of the most common complaints about the annual performance review, is that they’re too time-consuming. The average manager spends up to 210 hours per year completing performance reviews, and in turn, their direct reports each spend 40 hours on their reviews.

Compare those hours of essay writing, with the 5 minutes it takes to write a couple sentences of feedback. When people take the few minutes needed to provide real-time feedback, they’re not only providing information that can be used in the moment, but they’re making it easier on themselves come review time. Those little moments of feedback can be used to piece together reviews quickly and shave hours off the process.

Think of that 5 minutes it takes to deliver real-time feedback as a time-saving investment for the next review cycle.

Feedback makes the review experience better

The review experience is one of the components of the review process that is commonly overlooked by HR teams, but a focus point of the People Enablement approach to performance management. In this approach, HR teams strive to implement a review process that makes people feel supported in reaching their fullest potential in their roles.

Without this focus, performance reviews can leave a lasting, negative impact on your corporate culture. Traditional performance reviews tend to make people feel judged, like they’re “just a number” among everyone else. They can breed toxic competition, and introduce unnecessary stress into their already stressful day-to-day.

Encouraging real-time feedback at your organization sends a signal to your people that you’re supporting them every step of the way. When managers and direct reports exchange feedback throughout the year, individuals will naturally believe their managers care about their development (which they should!). Come review time, managers will have those feedback exchanges to reference in their reviews. When that review makes it back to the direct report, they’re not going to be surprised by anything they read.

Make real-time feedback a reality

Now that the HR industry has begun adopting more technological solutions into their processes, it is easier than ever to get started exchanging real-time feedback.

Giving real-time feedback doesn’t have to mean more emails, or potentially awkward chats. Tools such as Impraise help connect colleagues so they can share feedback easily, quickly, and even when they’re on the go. At the push of a button, colleagues can request feedback, send a praise when a job’s done well, or a tip to help colleagues become a better professional. Meanwhile, colleagues are instantly notified either via email or push notification whenever they receive feedback or feedback requests—that way everyone can get feedback right when it matters most.

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