Guest Post: The “On-the-Spot” Performance Review

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GUEST POSTBy Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk and Advisor to TalentCove.

This piece originally appeared as a post by Gary Swart in LinkedIn on January 30, 2014.  Republished by permission of the author.

Many employees never know whether their manager thinks they’re performing well. That’s because a majority of performance reviews—the main vehicle managers use to give feedback to their team—come only once a year, not when problems, issues or opportunities to offer praise arise. Immediate feedback is much more constructive than batched, delayed feedback on something that a manager or team member might not even remember.

I structure my own feedback around the idea of “On-the-Spot” performance reviews—giving feedback as opportunities arise, not at some undefined point down the road.

So why don’t “On-the-Spot” performance reviews happen more often? Much of the time, managers are simply afraid to to deliver constructive criticism. As a result, people suffer because they don’t learn and grow as rapidly as they could with ongoing mentorship. At the same time, many team members don’t feel empowered to ask for feedback.

I’ve encountered resistance to feedback—from both managers and teams—throughout my career. Along the way, I’ve learned quite a bit about making sure open communication happens in the office.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of “On-the-Spot” performance reviews:

For Managers:

#1: Create an environment where people aren’t afraid to ask for feedback. 

Set the standard by communicating openly and proactively. This creates a culture of transparency, and people will be more willing to ask for feedback. This is also the best way to help people understand that feedback is not only normal, but that they have a right to it and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for input. Your employees are entitled to growth and development, and this will ensure they get it. You owe it to them, and they will thank you for it.

#2: Kick the hierarchy to the curb.

Encourage employees to seek counsel from anyone at any time, not only their direct superiors. Has one of your team members delivered a memo to a different department? Encourage them to seek feedback from that department head to see how it was received. Broad feedback is much more valuable than feedback from a few and ensures a healthy organization where people work well together.

#3: Frame feedback using the “Start/Stop/Continue” method.

Tell your team what they should:

  • start doing to be company all-stars,

  • what they should stop doing,

  • and what they’re doing great and should continue doing.

Doing this helps structure feedback in a constructive way that is easier for people to understand and helps ensure clear communication of performance, both good and bad. The “Start/Stop/Continue” method is such an effective way to structure feedback, in fact, it’s recognized as a Lean Startup method for communicating with employees.

For Team Members:

#1: Actively seek feedback from your manager.

After meetings, don’t be afraid to request feedback—and be direct. Ask whether there’s anything you could have done better. Feedback apps exist as well, such as www.talentcove.com, which makes it easy to provide instant feedback to team members and coworkers.

#2: Give your manager the “Keeper Test.”

The “keeper test,” is something I learned from Patty McCord, the former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. Ask your manager, “If I were to tell you that I was leaving, how hard would you fight to keep me?” This is a good way for you to open yourself up to feedback. In fact, this is the most powerful question you could ask your boss, and the answer shows how much value you deliver, as well as how your performance is perceived. Of course, this is a hard-hitting question, so make sure you have ongoing, open communication established first.

I’ve used these approaches throughout my career—both as a manager and a team member—and each has helped to improve my experience drastically. So what are you waiting for? Get spontaneous—start “On-the-Spot” feedback to open up communication, build trust and drive forward momentum. When everything is out in the open, everyone can spend their time performing rather than speculating.

Giving feedback can be difficult, but next week, I’ll share my tactics on how to deliver and receive feedback effectively.

How do you encourage feedback? I’d love to hear more.

Gary Swart is the CEO of oDesk, a leading online marketplace for work.

Photo: Getty Images

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TalentCove would like to thank Gary for allowing us to share his piece with our readers. 

You can download the TalentCove App for free and start providing instant feedback to your team and co-workers!

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