There goes a saying that- there is always room for improvement. In other words, people often say that there is no end to getting better. While making him/herself more adept and better at his/her job is what most employees strive towards, it significantly requires their managers to play an active role. Thus, most companies in the country have a customary performance review once a year to help the progress of employee self-development and skills. However, an important question to pose here is- is a review once a year enough to bring an impact?
Feedback is a powerful tool for employee learning and development. An employee may continue to do things in a wrong or unprofessional way just because nobody cared enough to point it out. Sometimes employees do not have the slightest idea of what they are doing right or what they are doing wrong. While instant and spontaneous feedback is the fastest way to tackle such situations, it might not be the best way. Feedback should always come in the form of constructive criticism. Rather than starting with what went wrong, a better approach is still to say- what could have been better. However, it is difficult to frame and pass on such remarks on a casual basis. Thus, a one-on-one sitting with the line manager can best solve such limitations and problems. Such a conversation, which often takes the form of a performance review, requires preparation on both sides- from the employee and the employer. Employees should have a self-assessment to compare to their manager's assessment to identify the gaps in understanding performance indicators. If prepared adequately, a fruitful conversation can lead to a significant improvement in performance. Thus, having frequent reviews is a useful tool for better employee development.
The "Recency" bias
To answer the question- what is the right frequency to hold such reviews is a tricky one. There is no one correct answer to this question, but once a year is a wrong answer. According to a Harvard Business Review article, "Ditch Performance Reviews? How About Learn to do Them Well?"- having a review once a year fixates a manager only on recent events since it is most unlikely that s/he had a stellar record of the year-round events. This, however, is a faulty system of performance review and results in the employee slacking off the year-round with trying to deliver the best only before the year-end review.
Reducing lag period
Having a review once a year means having to wait an entire year to know what is wrong with one's way of working and then waiting for another year to know whether the amendments are working right. Moreover, an improvisation is best done earliest. If something needs to be changed, it should be addressed immediately to bring positive results from the improvisation. Holding a performance review once a year surely does not fulfil any of these objectives. Thus, quarterly and half-yearly reviews to the least are a more efficient way to deal with such issues.
Creating a better understanding
A manager is like a coach, and to guide an employee better, it is essential on his/her part to know the reasons behind below the mark performance. A performance review should be a two-way dialogue, and frequent dialogues help to be better connected and in return, discuss problems more openly and productively resulting in more considerable improvement in performance.
An employee's role
Although the number of performance reviews to be done in the respective Human Resource Department of a company often specifies a year, it can be useful for employees to engage in informal reviews. Employee development should be of utmost priority to both an employee and his/her line manager. Employees should try to elicit feedback from their superiors on multiple occasions -- be it formal or informal. Employees should try to commence one-on-one conversation with their line managers for personal growth. It also sends a positive message that the employee is serious about his/her work and is ready to go further if required. On the other hand, line managers should also work towards the betterment of an employee's growth by providing honest criticism and by responding actively to an employee's call for feedback. Briefly, a two-way process requires understanding on both sides.
Every person works for personal growth, development and progress. If an organisation fails to meet such personal goals of its employees, it may miss out quality recruits or higher employee productivity.
The writer, after finishing her undergraduation from IBA, University of Dhaka, is working in a financial institution. She can be reached at email@example.com