Modern corporations have a need for speed. Companies race to keep up with relentless competition, stakeholder expectations and continuous change. But an organization can move only as quickly as its people do.
Companies that want rapid results must be able to give their team members rapid feedback. However, most companies continue to be held back by traditional performance systems that revolve around dreaded annual reviews, usually accompanied by lengthy reports.
Most of the senior executives I know readily admit that their performance management systems are far less effective than they would like. Most systems give employees feedback at the end of arbitrary 90- or 180- or 365-day periods. Much of that feedback arrives months after the events that prompted it. In an era of constant change, an employee is likely to have switched positions, supervisors or even companies, rendering the annual review moot upon arrival.
If businesses want faster results, they need a much faster way to deliver feedback and direction to their workers.
The Ubiquitous 360 Review
The 360-degree review is built into the annual process of most large corporations, including almost all Fortune 500 companies. The 360 is a powerful tool. However, the traditional 360 system is agonizingly slow. Input from multiple sources of an employee’s work circle must be gathered, collated, analyzed and delivered. That can take weeks or months. With each passing day, the feedback becomes more obsolete, while the productivity improvements the feedback was intended to encourage are delayed.
Performance management took a big step in the right direction with the introduction of web-based 360s. Online tools make 360 reviews easier to customize and complete. However, web-based 360s have not introduced any fundamental change to the old-fashioned process, they have just speeded things up a bit. The results remain the same: detailed reports, usually created once a year, in conjunction with an employee’s perfunctory annual review.
Continuous Feedback and Power to the People
Can’t we use the phenomenal power of the Internet for something more than simply speeding up the paperwork? With the rise of social networks, we live in a day of instantaneous communication. Why can’t employee feedback be that fast and that real?
In 2012, our company unveiled Skillrater, the first 360-degree feedback tool residing on a social network. Skillrater empowers companies to break free from lengthy reports and annual reviews and move to a new level of productivity powered by continuous 360-degree feedback delivered day by day, activity by activity.
Skillrater transfers the power of feedback to the employees themselves. Team members who want to improve and be noticed request feedback. Each feedback request and response focuses on a single activity and takes just seconds to create and reply to. Feedback takes the form of five-star ratings, creating metrics of an employee’s progress over time. The feedback can be enhanced with affirmations and suggestions for improvement.
A Social Network for Business Productivity
Rapid feedback, made possible through Skillrater’s social collaboration platform, gets rapid results. When employees get positive feedback, they are eager to maintain the high marks they have earned. Negative feedback is less painful, because employees are able to make the necessary improvements and request another rating to demonstrate one’s progress, rather than waiting for the next annual review.
Progress that used to take years now happens in days and weeks. The old-fashioned annual review focuses on the past. Continuous feedback turns the focus forward, pointing to the next step in a company’s and an employee’s progress.
The best way for businesses to achieve rapid results is to break out of the annual cycle and start giving employees rapid feedback. Continuous input that is employee-driven and future-focused has the potential to revolutionize the workplace.