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Why Performance Feedback Should be More Frequent

Feelings Aside
Personal Growth
Meetings
Feedback

2 December, 2021

Anurag Jain
Anurag Jain

Leadership Role at Fortinet

Anurag Jain, a leader at Fortinet, delivers his tactic for reducing reliance on annual reviews and focusing on a regular feedback loop involving one-on-ones.

Problem

Often, year-round reviews are seen as a chore, by both managers and employees, and many times end with employees being surprised. Employees feel that their manager should already be aware of their challenges or accomplishments, and therefore do not want to fill in the details of the review. Managers who don’t think about performance regularly, find it difficult to remember the last twelve months and what went well or poorly. As a result, employees feel blindsided when managers do annual reviews and take it with less meaning.

Actions taken

As a manager, you should be thinking about each employee’s performance all year round. Give your employees support regularly and tell them what they are doing right and wrong. Your employees will look up to you, as a leader, for guidance, and it is up to you to tell them what is beneficial or not. Use positive reinforcement and negative review when events necessitate guidance. It is important not to just gather all of these positives and negatives and hold them for an annual review.

Peer-to-peer problems are a perfect example of immediate guidance. You cannot wait until the end of the year to bring this information to the employee that received the complaint. If the message weren’t sent right away, the employee might continue their behavior, and the situation would most likely become more problematic. As a manager, it is your responsibility to summarize the complaint justly while explaining why they are perceived in a particular light.

I bring this information out during one-on-one meetings with my team, whenever necessary. Discussing performance during some one-on-ones in this manner requires a change in mindset for managers. It is essential to monitor and manage performance and actions regularly and provide actionable feedback at the earliest opportune moment.

It is important to understand that regular feedback does not replace a formal review. Formal assessments are taxing for any organization as they are done in addition to your day-to-day work, and require formal documentation. However, having done performance reviews all through the year the formal assessment is a simpler task. Simply put, you need to think about the performance all the time and provide feedback regularly.

The one-on-one meetings are designed for the manager to see where employees need help. If your employees have nothing to bring back each month or two, you should bring them new information instead. This can be informal feedback that can guide them to your goal or their outcome. Tell them how they are doing, and where they can improve. As a manager, you can help your team members understand what they are doing, which causes the rest of the team to see them a certain way. Then the employees can decide for themselves if they change or retain that perception.

Lessons learned

  • Your team members are growing all the time. As a manager, it is your responsibility to provide them with regular feedback to enable them to grow. Without a regular system in place, employees are often surprised about their feedback. Surprising results lead to unhappy employees, which tends to make them leave the organization. If you want your employees to stick around, never surprise them. When you’re contributing constant feedback, you are sending the message that you are in their corner and are there for them to succeed - even when this feedback is sometimes about improvement.
  • There is a mindset shift needed to start thinking about performance regularly. The change moves from an annual thought process to one that is recurring almost every day. Once this transition happens, you will see growth in your team and your impact as a manager.

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