This is the time of year when most organizations are beginning the annual drudgery of the year-end performance appraisal. Managers hate the process because they are forced to fill out a form they have no interest in filling out by trying to remember things that happened over the course of the last 365 days. Come on, let’s face it, we all know it’s true. Employees hate it because it may be the only time all year they get any feedback about how they are doing. This is especially troublesome if the feedback isn’t positive.
What if there were a better way? Recently, at an airport in the Netherlands, I stopped to use the restroom. As I approached the entrance, I saw a touchscreen device designed to gather feedback. It asked me to rate my visit by touching the appropriate smiley (or not so smiley) face. I had three thoughts when I saw the device:
- How bad would the restroom have to be before anyone touched that screen?
- Is there a team standing by to spring into action any time the frowniest of faces are selected?
- Wouldn’t it be cool if this culture of immediate feedback made it to our daily work?
As a manager, you may not have a touch screen attached to each of your employees seeking feedback on their individual tasks (it would probably create other HR issues if you did), but you still have the same opportunity to give feedback just as often.
To do this, all you have to do is be observant. Once you make an observation of something happening that you can give some feedback about, give the feedback. Don’t wait, don’t think it’s not significant enough to give feedback on, and by all means, don’t hesitate because you don’t feel like you know how to give feedback. As long as you are making the attempt, your people will notice and appreciate the attempt.
3 Tips for Developing Feedback Opportunities
If you need help finding things to give feedback about, try these three things:
- Get out of your chair and go walk around for a bit and talk to people. Ask them what they are working on and what they are struggling with.
- Go through your emails and take a look at the updates on projects you are getting. They are most likely filled with things you could give feedback about.
- Ask. Ask someone on your team to tell you something one of their teammates did that they appreciate.
Once you have something to give feedback on, think about how you want to approach the conversation. Taking just a couple of minutes to think through the process will help you have a better conversation. Check out this article if you need help knowing the difference between praise and feedback. If you feel you need more help with the feedback process, you can consider taking a training class.
So back to the bathroom sign. Our point is that if each manager followed the steps outlined above and started giving feedback on a regular basis, the organizational system of giving and receiving feedback would improve. If the system improves enough, there may not be a need to have an annual performance appraisal. And that’s something many of us would be happy about! Huge smiley face!