Once a year doesn’t cut it: why feedback should be ongoing

Vartika Kashyap


written on January 11, 2018

For the purpose of growth and learning, employers should be giving continuous feedback. And employees should be asking for it too.

Feedback is perhaps one of the least discussed topics in the office. Neither managers nor their employees like to bring their feedback discussions out in the open. That’s perfectly fine, but the one thing I fail to understand is the concept of annual reviews and performance evaluations. Because to me, one year is a lot of time to wait before giving feedback to someone for the work they’re doing. Feedback sharing has to be a continuous process in order to be effective.

Annual appraisals – a box-ticking exercise

Excuse me for the harsh words, but this is what the numbers suggest. Way back in 1965, Harvard Business Review published the results of a US study in Generic Electric that clearly revealed how unsatisfying annual appraisals are for employees. A similar point of view was also cited in another study published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in 2009, which revealed that close to 30 per cent of business leaders think annual appraisals are nothing more than a box-ticking exercise.

The misconducted art of annual feedback sharing

To me, the entire concept of appraisals and feedback sharing in the corporate sector is hollow. Managers don’t really consider judging employee performance unless it’s time for their annual salary hike. Similarly, employees don’t really consider performance evaluation as an important factor in their work life unless they realise they have received a lower-than-expected salary increase.

Should this be the ideal scenario?

No, certainly not. Performance analysis and annual appraisals should be treated as two separate entities. Feedback and performance evaluation must be a continuous process, whereas appraisals could be considered as  timely (not necessarily annual).

Here is a look at why feedback sharing should be an ongoing process in every work culture:

It helps us improve

Good feedback is the key to improvement – it’s as simple as that. No matter how good you are at something, there’s always room for improvement. If you expect to get some appreciation at the annual appraisal, your efforts to learn and improve must take place throughout the year, not during the month of the performance review.

It gives us a reason to grow

If you are simply running the mill like every other person in a 9-to-5 job, without any feedback or learning you will soon exhaust the purpose to grow.

When you are young and fresh out of college, you enter a job or business with so much new to learn. But after the dust settles, you can end up becoming another regular employee who loses purpose. It’s easy to get stuck in a dangerous comfort zone, where things are running smoothly. But, is “okay” sufficient to become the successful person you always wanted to be?

This is where continuous feedback comes into play. Finding out how you can improve on what you’re doing right now brings a sense of purpose for growth. And it’s not just about negative feedback. Getting words of encouragement will keep you motivated enough to deliver your best.

It prevents you from being stuck

Innovation comes when we look for new ways to do things. By becoming a part of the system and doing things the same way others are doing them, you will soon be stuck in a vicious loop of mediocrity.

Continuously seeking feedback from your superiors means you will eventually discover the things you can do to improve your existing performance. And, that’s how innovation takes place.

But, wait – is improvement purely an employee’s responsibility?

Well, while many may say so, I subscribe to a different school of thought. As a leader, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that team members continue to get input from you on how they can improve.

After all, you’re the one who has to guide them towards the ideal you’ve created. If you won’t push them out of their comfort zone, who else will? If you won’t let them know that they’re doing fine, but fine is not enough, who else will? If you won’t point out their mistakes and show them the path to learn from those mistakes, who else will?

When it comes down to it, “An inability to tolerate feedback is an inability to allow yourself personal growth.” As an employee, you must embrace it, not be afraid of it. And, as a leader, you must do your best to eliminate this feeling of feedback being a dreaded commodity. Feedback should be something that employees become willing to accept, and ask for on their own from time to time – because that’s how you will continue to grow and move forward towards greatness!

Vartika Kashyap is a marketing manager, blogger and contributing author.

This is an edited version of her Linkedin article.

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One thought on “Once a year doesn’t cut it: why feedback should be ongoing

  1. Vartika interesting article. We find that with modern performance management systems employees can be empowered to deliver against targets (with deviation envelopes). This empowerment has to have feedback that is appropriate to the measure e.g. call centre or manufacturing line it needs to be real-time, professional services monthly or even quarterly for say client surveys etc. When managed using predictive modeling the employees often generate the discussions – how can I address “xx measure” before it is too late.

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