Feedback can be quite the sensitive topic to broach with employees. Let's face it, not all feedback is going to be positive; there are times when managers will need to offer some constructive criticism if an employee's performance has been less than satisfactory.
Having to give negative feedback itself is not the greatest challenge managers and HR professionals face. Rather, it's the how they deliver the feedback.
When saved up for an annual review, there's the chance for everything to go wrong. This is a concern for participants on both sides. On one, the employee — having been left twisting in the wind for the better part of the year with no feedback — is likely dreading the avalanche of notes and comments about to come their way. On the other end, assessors are grasping with how best to break up bad feedback with small nuggets of good, or fretting about how the whole thing will be received.
There's an easy way to remove the risk of clashing emotions or needless worrying in the run-up to feedback: it's called continuous performance management (CPM).
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Anxiety common before annual reviews
While annual reviews were once thought untouchable in corporate performance management culture, they've steadily become less common. While a host of factors have figured into the de-emphasizing of the annual review, one important reason is that they wreak havoc on everybody's nerves.
Many have been in the position before: A year has gone by, both good and bad has happened, but no meaningful feedback was received because the annual review was reserved as the only outlet. In such cases, the annual review takes on a different connotation than one of being helpful. Instead, it becomes a dreaded appointment, a looming date employees only grow more anxious about as it nears. Being left in the dark isn't a great feeling, but when the annual review is the only structure for giving feedback, there's little that can be done to ease trepidation or stress. Managers giving feedback can be prone to these feelings as well, especially when they know less-than-stellar feedback will need to be delivered.
The anxiety and restlessness annual reviews may provoke can have a twofold negative effect. Not only can adverse emotions affect the quality of feedback, but they may lead to distraction and worrying that takes away from productivity.
CPM the answer to destigmatizing feedback
A key strategy to avoiding the unhealthy stress of forever working in the shadow of an annual review is continuous performance management. As a methodology, CPM has managers focus on keeping open lines of communication with employees: two-way streets that can be used to get immediate feedback on important matters. When operating in a structure that values constant communication, companies can effectively cut down on the anxiety that creeps in and disrupts performance.
Implementing a CPM setup can have wide-reaching positive effects. Where a solitary annual review may cause consternation, employees and managers alike can be more comfortable in knowing an answer to their question isn't so far away and laid with prickly thorn bushes. CPM not only works in uniting everyone under shared processes, but acts as an ideal to strive toward.
Interested in learning more about CPM and how it can benefit your workplace and staff? Contact BetterWorks today for more information on how our suite of solutions can be used to support CPM and crucial workflows like goals tracking and objectives setting.