By Stacy Litteral, Managing Director, Advisory
By now, organizations are aware that they need an employee performance management process and tool. The question for many, however, is how often supervisors should check in with employees regarding their performance. Old-school wisdom says once yearly is fine. But considering the needs — both psychological and economic — of today’s workforce, that may not be anywhere close to enough.
A 2014 survey of more than 1,400 millennials found that members of this generation (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) report wanting feedback from their supervisors at least monthly. Similarly, the survey found that millennials overall want feedback at a rate nearly 50% more than their older colleagues. With millennials now representing the largest working generation in the U.S. labor force, organizations cannot afford to ignore the human needs of these employees.
It is important for leaders, particularly those who are of a previous generation, that this need for feedback is not merely psychological or emotional. Millennials exist in a career landscape quite unlike their predecessors:
Against that backdrop, the cadence of an annual performance review feels positively glacial.
Strike Up a Dialogue
In response to this, leaders must use all the tools they have to maintain and develop their talent effectively. That is where the concept of continuous dialogue comes in.
Whereas a traditional performance management program calls for a formal meeting between managers and their employees once a year, continuous dialogue sets employee performance management discussions at a frequency — at least monthly. Rather than attempting to execute against stale goals over a timeframe of a year or longer, employees are able to give and receive ongoing feedback and talk through opportunities to improve both their performance and the organization’s performance. Think of it as an iterative, more flexible and, ultimately, more humane approach to employee performance management.
There are other benefits to continuous dialogue, too. The emphasis on dialogue — as opposed to those unidirectional, asymmetrical “evaluations” employees typically receive from traditional performance management systems — allows the employee to become an active participant in their achievement and, more broadly, their career, not only reducing the leader’s burden but also promoting engagement (one area in which millennial workers are notoriously lacking). Additionally, the opportunity to regularly clear the air with managers allows employers to rectify employee concerns and provide feedback before they fester into larger interpersonal or cultural problems and start to drain productivity.
Does this kind of approach to employee performance management require a bigger time investment than the traditional “yearly review?” Probably. But the returns on this investment, being many times over what you put in, make it more than worth it. Skeptics or those loyal to the old-school approach should ask themselves what ROI they are getting from their current performance management program. I would wager it is pretty low.
A Performance Management System for the New Millennium
Continuous dialogue is even more effective with a modern, progressive performance alignment system like BPM Link. BPM Link automates away the traditionally manual and time-consuming elements of performance management, leaving the way for leaders and employees to have efficient, impactful and structured conversations. Simple to use and employee-driven, BPM Link streamlines performance management minimizing the burden on managers and driving engagement among employees. Contact Stacy Litteral, HR Consulting Managing Director, today to learn more about how BPM Link can help you optimize your employee feedback process.