Continuous Feedback: The Annual Review Alternative

November 7, 2022
By Jayne Garrison, M.S.

Most companies give feedback during that favored tool of business: the annual performance review. It’s a process many managers and employees dread, and for good reason.


Increasingly, evidence shows these annual reviews are costly and ineffective. A case study of Deloitte US found that managers spent up to 2 million hours a year doing performance reviews. Yet, in Gallop survey data from 2020, 86% of employees said they don’t think their annual review is accurate.


Is it time to drop the feedback loop? Not at all. But it may be time to change your process. Research shows that giving – and receiving – helpful feedback continuously throughout the work week fine tunes employees’ performance, as well as their relationships with their teams and managers.


Here are some tips to remove the stress and get the most benefit from workplace feedback.


Giving Continuous Feedback


Aim for weekly, informal feedback, perhaps during regularly scheduled 1 on 1 meetings. Ask questions to start a dialogue. Did the employee face any challenges on that week’s project? Could the team have handled anything differently?


Focus first on the employee’s strengths. Be specific and use examples. “Your presentation Tuesday clearly set out the goals of this project and how we’re going to get there.” Or, “You handled our change in direction professionally and admirably. I really appreciate how quickly you turned around the revisions.”


When you turn to the employee’s weaknesses, be just as specific. Convey why something is a problem, what the impact is on the business or the team. Provide objective data and include examples. “When you arrive late to a meeting, it means our whole team must listen to repeated information. The meeting drags out longer than needed, keeping people from their work.” Or, “This project was incomplete when submitted and had to be sent back to you. So, take more time on the front end. We want to see the polished result.”


Receiving Continuous Feedback


Feedback can help you grow in the job. It also gives you an opportunity to turn your manager into a mentor. Of course, not all managers know how to give good feedback. So it’s important to know how to sift through the feedback: Use what’s helpful and let go of the rest. HR development coach Shanita Williams, author of “Feedback Mentality,” calls it processing feedback with a strainer, not a sponge.


First consider the source. Is this a manager or a colleague you work with closely and often? Does this person have first-hand experience with your results on the job? In general, do you trust this person?


Next, consider the impact. Is the negative feedback about something that can affect the business or your team? It’s one thing to be told you didn’t rinse out your coffee cup. It’s quite another to find out that your missed deadline jeopardized a key deal or presentation.


Consider the frequency. Do people often ask you to revise work due to small errors? Are you often late to meetings, or straggle in the morning? Do you hear the same comment from several people at work?


Lastly, consider the trends. Do you get the same feedback at home or from friends? Put the feedback into the larger context of your life. If you’re often late, your friends and family will notice as well, and they probably don’t like it. If you frequently make small errors, that inattention to detail will show up at home.


Pay attention to these trends. Stay open to the possibility that you can make beneficial changes. You just might boost your career, as well as your personal life.


If you need assistance with your hiring needs, our staffing experts are here to help. Contact us today.



Jayne Garrison, M.S., is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. She specializes in website content, ghostwriting, and thought leadership pieces.

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