The yearly performance review is still a widely used method to discuss employee performance, but now "there's a demand for more frequent conversations," Dick Grote writes for the Harvard Business Review. Grote argues that a yearly performance review not only produces "high anxiety levels" in employees, but is also an ineffective way for managers to share company goals and needs with them, saying that those needs "change more often than a once-a-year appraisal can accommodate."

To increase the frequency of these performance reviews, Grote highlights both calendar-driven and event-driven coaching methods.

The calendar-driven method relies on a scheduled meeting for both manager and employee to take time and talk. Grote highlights the key characteristics of a calendar-driven meeting:

  • occur in formal, structured, sit-down meetings
  • be initiated, led, and controlled by the manager
  • cover work conducted over time, not a singular event or project
  • provide a forum for discussion and review of multiple events and competencies
  • both parties should clearly recognize these sessions as a feedback event.

During these sessions, it is also important to make the employee feel like a partner. "A few days before the scheduled session, ask the individual to email you a list of the things he would like to cover in the meeting," Grote says.

The event-driven method is instigated by a specific occurrence that requires immediate feedback. Grote gives the following advice for event-driven feedback:

  • occur whenever discussion is needed
  • focus on a discrete incident
  • be triggered by a “teachable moment”
  • be a routine part of day-to-day work
  • rely on two-way accountability and interaction — either the boss or the employee can initiate the coaching discussion

Though your employees might not recognize this as a feedback session, it is important to make sure that they understand your message and what you are trying to tell them.

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