The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

December 02, 2013

Annual Performance Reviews and the Broken Feedback Loop

As 2013 winds down, many supervisory professionals are preparing for a not-so-popular managerial ritual: employee performance reviews.  Such formal discussions of goals, expectations and areas for improvement – held once a year – are, in theory, pretty purposeful.  Unfortunately, in certain cases, the annual performance review is the only circumstance of manager-employee feedback, with the remainder of the year condemned to aloofness, mistrust and a general lack of direction. 

Late last month, Australia’s Business Review Weekly presented valuable arguments regarding this very issue. Citing the opinions of a prominent Australian management consultant, the author explains that anything done annually – such as a performance review – can’t possibly sustain the “feedback loop” that is so critical to employee engagement, productivity and confidence.  The expert instead recommends, in accordance with several peers, that managers engage staff with performance-related conversations on a more frequent, ideally monthly, basis.  Routine “how are you doing?” chats prevent supervisors from mentally accumulating a series of grievances and then oppressively reciting them in a single meeting.  That type of disciplinary, shaming approach is precisely what causes employees to “feel that employees don’t trust them, don’t value them, and that’s when morale and motivation go through the floor,” cautions a human resources management professor in Melbourne.  For additional guidance, see the full piece about cultivating a management culture of positivity, attentiveness and trust.

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