Performance feedback is an important way for your employees to know how well they are doing in their role, especially in a growing company. While annual reviews help your employees see how they’ve been doing throughout the course of the year, they could also benefit from receiving regular performance feedback.
Continued feedback allows employees to address any changes they should be making in their workflow, rather than finding out later on that they have been underperforming. However, it should be given in a way that employees feel encouraged to improve, rather than micro-managed.
Below, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members offers creative ways to give regular performance feedback to key team members, even in a growing company.
1. Hold Weekly One-On-Ones
I’m a big believer in weekly one-on-ones, but my company has grown too big for my co-founder and me to meet with each of our team members weekly. Now I have one-on-ones with my managers, and my managers have one-on-ones with their direct reports. One-on-ones allow for almost instantaneous feedback and empowers managers to nip any issues in the bud. One-on-ones are also great for retention. Employees are given a forum to offer ideas and solutions that could make their jobs easier or improve the overall performance of the company. Pro tip: For weekly one-on-ones to be effective, they must be non-negotiable. Constantly postponing or rescheduling one-on-ones sends the signal to your team that you don’t value their time or input — the exact opposite of the message you’re trying to convey. – Mark Stallings, Casely, Inc
2. Focus On ‘Start/Stop/Keep’ Activities
This three-prong feedback construct is a simple way to address positive and negative feedback. The “start” section is like a request, such as, “I’d like you to be more proactive in reaching out to me by emailing all memos we need to send 24 hours in advance so I have time to review.” The second section, “stop,” is a request to halt a behavior such as, “Please stop texting me after 6 p.m. so I can have time with my family. Let’s put a list together on a Google Doc so you can have an agenda for our standup tomorrow.” The last part, “keep,” reinforces and acknowledges something that is working. “Let’s keep meeting for 15 minutes every day — it helps us sync on what we need to do.” – Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications
3. Set Quarterly Goals During Reviews
The managers for the team conduct quarterly performance reviews. They help employees set goals for the quarter and percentages on how best to achieve them. Managers conduct these reviews over Zoom. For a more creative approach? Host a virtual lunch over Zoom. Ask people to bring their favorite foods over a webcam, and offer to reimburse any takeout or delivery at a dollar amount. Then you can offer the feedback they need while breaking bad news or delivering praise. – Duran Inci, Optimum7
4. Get Everyone Talking To Each Other
Regular check-ins from all relevant stakeholders in the performance of a team member are critical. Making sure people are talking to everyone that is involved in the outcome of the work on a regular basis allows for constant communication around key deliverables and their roles in getting these deliverables out on time and to the required standard. We work with weekly project check-ins, monthly HR check-ins, monthly performance manager check-ins and senior management check-ins. These are at a minimum. People hearing feedback from different parties allows them to ask more questions and improve lines of communication. When done well, in a clear and concise way, there are no surprises and everyone is on the same page about a relevant team member’s performance. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
5. Use Words Of Encouragement
Even the smallest words of encouragement go a long way. Anything and everything you notice that is positive, make note of it and let your employee know. For example, if your employee is setting a great example, let them know at that moment that their support of your new technology, campaign, plan, etc. is appreciated. If you see them develop and follow good habits that benefit themselves as an individual and/or your business, encourage them to continue and include them on future projects. When an employee overcomes a challenge, congratulate them on persevering and ask them what you can do to help them manage everything moving forward. In short, just a few words on a daily basis can make a huge difference. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
6. Examine KPI Progress Together
I strive to provide feedback to my team on a monthly basis. I find this approach is helpful in ensuring they hit their KPIs every month. If one team member falls short one month, we will sit down, determine where they are falling short and why, and then come up with a plan to help them get back on track. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
7. Improve How You Deliver Feedback
Giving regular feedback to employees is important, but how you deliver that feedback makes all the difference. Many managers never learned how to be managers, so coaching them is invaluable. I highly recommend getting 360-degree reviews on all managers and also getting them both EQ and communication training. Although someone may have a high IQ and be a productive worker, they may have low EQ and not understand how they are making others feel. Just because you have a good message for someone, doesn’t always mean they will be receptive to the feedback. People get defensive, they deflect and they blame others. Getting them to understand that you are there to help and that you want to support them, elevate them and assist them in their growth, will enable them to put their guard down. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc
8. Host Rearview Mirror Meetings
We have one-on-one weekly meetings that are 30 minutes each to have more meaningful conversations outside of daily huddles and team meetings. Every quarter we have a rearview mirror meeting where we look back and discuss what they are proud of, what they would have done differently and what their personal and professional goals are for the quarter. This allows space for each team member to feel seen and heard and for managers to use metrics and strategies to help them meet their goals. The intimacy of these one-on-one meetings makes constructive criticism easier to take and also allows the employee to give feedback on what we as managers and leaders could do better to streamline efficiency and communication. – Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office
9. Encourage Kudos After Meetings
One easy way to give employees feedback is at the end of regularly scheduled meetings. Allow a few minutes, in the end, to give kudos for a job well done. Ask each employee to say a few words about one of their coworkers. We ask employees to be specific with their comments. Employees cannot choose an employee that has already been picked. That way, every employee receives feedback. Being recognized encourages employees to perform — it feels good to be recognized. This also gives management an excellent idea of what is going on in the workplace and where we are on our projects. This also cues us into potential problems. Overly generic comments/kudos indicate that we need follow-up with that employee and provide more detailed feedback. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
10. Keep Receipts
The old order of performance reviews was that these discussions were done annually, were one-sided, and were mostly subjective opinions of managers. But the numerous inefficiencies within this process have led to a new approach to performance reviews. They’re much more frequent with them being held monthly or quarterly at most in addition to an overarching annual review. Apart from the frequency of the reviews, subjective opinions have given way to objective reviews. Managers are expected to back their reviews with data and examples of employee performance. Performance reviews can be uncomfortable situations for both managers and employees, data can help make it easy to give and receive reviews. In addition to receipts, one must also involve employees in the process. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions