When It Comes To Feedback, Timing Is EverythingBy Nicole Rogers on September 7, 2011 in @Rypple, How To...
Coming Soon to a Company Near You… More Frequent Performance Feedback
Imagine a toaster that only popped after it burned your toast. Or a car airbag that inflated after your accident. When it comes to feedback, timing is everything. Companies have already discovered how to employ the latest technologies to bring just-in-time feedback loops to the way they manage product manufacturing and supply chains.
Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, they are employing the same approach to employee feedback. Instead of waiting until the next performance review, Journal reporter Rachel Silverman wrote yesterday in Yearly Reviews? Try Weekly about how our era of constant status updates — and the influx of younger people in the workplace — has influenced companies to adopt more frequent feedback at work.
Facebook’s Feedback Culture
Not surprisingly, Facebook, a company that has defined the era, is cited by the Journal as exemplifying that trend:
The social network’s 2,000 employees are encouraged to solicit and give small nuggets of feedback regularly, after meetings, presentations and projects. “You don’t have to schedule time with someone. It’s a 45-second conversation—’How did that go? What could be done better?” says Lori Goler, the Palo Alto, Calif., social-networking company’s vice president of human resources. …
Facebook uses Rypple, a program that resembles the social-networking site and allows workers to give each other real-time feedback (“stop interrupting customers” or “great presentation at the last meeting”). Users can “like” co-workers’ activities, solicit reactions to their work or reward colleagues with virtual “badges,” says Daniel Debow, co-CEO of Rypple, a Toronto-based firm. Twice a year, Facebook managers pull summaries of the feedback to discuss performance, pay and promotions, says Ms. Goler.
To learn more about how Facebook uses Rypple to manage its performance summary cycle – using the same agile approach to microfeedback it employs to build its product, click here.
The Tide Has Turned Against Traditional Reviews
The Journal makes a number of arguments why Facebook and other companies are moving away from traditional annual performance reviews:
1. Annual reviews are ineffective. In reviewing more than 600 employee-feedback studies, one academic review found that two-thirds of reviews had no effect on employee performance — and even resulted in a negative effect. Instead of feedback improving performance, annual reviews caused the opposite to happen.
2. Information overload. Once-a-year reviews flood employees with information, including past performance, future outlook, and compensation. This makes it hard for workers to absorb and process, and often leads employees to focus on criticism rather than self-improvement.
3. It’s impossible to sum up a year of work in an hour-long conversation. Not only do managers miss an opportunity to provide timely feedback when it matters most, waiting all year for a review means they don’t have time or space to tell their employees everything they need to be successful.
The annual performance review is increasingly being recognized as a relic of a former life before social media and the Internet made communication more instantaneous. While the formal nature of it still plays a vital purpose in giving employees a chance to argue for pay increases, the consensus is building that it does not accomplish its original purpose: improving performance at work.