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3 Ways Continuous Feedback Improves Performance

How often do you conduct performance reviews in your organization? Are you still on the annual review cycle? If not, what did you replace it with? How long after a new hire starts do you check in with them to see how they are adjusting? […]

3 Ways Continuous Feedback Improves Performance

How often do you conduct performance reviews in your organization? Are you still on the annual review cycle? If not, what did you replace it with? How long after a new hire starts do you check in with them to see how they are adjusting? What about people who give notice – do you conduct an exit interview?

If you have responsibility for overseeing performance reviews, consider the following:

According to one survey, although 94% of executives are confident that employees are satisfied with their company’s performance review process, most employees feel the process is outdated.  In fact, while nearly 70% of companies still cling to an annual or bi-annual performance review schedule, more than half of office professionals say that’s not nearly enough–they want performance check-ins at least once a month. Even more (94%) would prefer their manager address mistakes and development opportunities in real-time, which enables more agility through coaching and behavior changes to address skills gaps and shifting strategies.

In a recent Gallup study, over half of exiting employees said that in the three months before their departure from the company, neither their manager nor team lead had spoken to them about their job satisfaction or future with the company.

Replacing the once-off with continuous feedback

Today’s worker can reach friends and family instantly. This instant access is extending into the workplace and manipulating how feedback needs to be given by managers—” the millennial experience of being able to check in, ask questions, and get feedback in real-time in their personal life would be mirrored in their desire to have similar access and input in their professional lives.”

It is also true that providing continuous feedback increases morale and helps employees stay on track with their professional goals. When employees know where they are in their development, for example, a nurse who needs two more courses to advance to the next pay grade at a hospital, they’re motivated to continue their development.

Further evidence that continuous feedback is preferable:

  • Over 90% of employees want their manager to address performance mistakes or development opportunities in real-time when they happen
  • 67% of executives admit to removing negative feedback from employee evaluations because too much time had passed between the incident and the review for it to be relevant
  • 86% of executives say their company would benefit from more frequent check-ins with employees
  • Nearly half of employees don’t feel comfortable raising issues with their boss between formal performance reviews, but almost three-quarters say they’d be more proactive in raising issues or concerns if they received more frequent feedback

Regular feedback = rise in output

However, it is important to note that there is another reason for companies to adopt continuous feedback- increased performance.  Let’s take a closer look at how regular reviews and input boost performance:

1.  Frequency

Frequency of feedback alone can boost employee engagement. Allowing feedback to come from multiple sources increases the number of teaching moments provided to each employee. A self-service time clock that engages employees every day (clocking in each morning, clocking in and out at lunch, clocking back out in the evening) can provide feedback on where they are with their training and how to advance to their next promotion. Showing progress in training and compliance can keep employees safe as well as motivate them to progress to the next level within their organization. Both managers and employees benefit from multiple sources of feedback on performance and training.

2. Culture

Frequent, data-driven feedback not only supports manager decision making but also supports a positive workplace culture. Frank Elavsky, a data and policy analyst, says: “The most important skills to have in life are gained through interpersonal experiences…Human bodies in close proximity to other human bodies stimulate real compassion, empathy, vulnerability and social-emotional intelligence. These skills are imperative to focus on, as the future is in danger of losing these skillsets from the workforce.” Encouraging continuous feedback and supporting a coaching culture creates a workplace that is people-focused. A performance strategy that puts people at the center shows commitment to workers, their well-being, and their success.

3. Analytics

Today’s managers have more tools than ever available to track and monitor employee training and performance. Technology may be the most valuable tool in helping organizations overhaul performance management. Capturing performance data (on-time rates, customer satisfaction results) can provide managers with tangible metrics to assess and rate employee performance. Issues afflicting performance management, such as biases and human error, can be eliminated when promotion and pay scales are based on data. Workers can be identified as top performers and rewarded for their performance when managers have access to accurate information on key metrics for success.

SumTotal’s Performance Management in action

Often, I hear that while the idea of frequent feedback is excellent, the reality is that organizations are just not set-up to efficiently or effectively conduct them. Well, that’s no longer the case. Technology is a great enabler, and SumTotal’s Talent Management solution is the answer.

Here’s Universal talking about our tools:

“SumTotal Talent Management ensures Universal is evolving to align with our ever-growing organization and facilitating more regular engagement in conversations and documentation about employee performance and development.”

– Kristin Chase, Senior Director, Organizational Development, Universal Parks and Resorts

Read the case study to learn how our custom hourly performance snapshot enables Universal managers to quickly and efficiently evaluate the thousands of hourly employees working.

Perspectives19: A Customer-Centric, Music-Filled Experience

Who doesn’t love company conferences, right? A three-day jam-packed event filled with networking, knowledge sharing, software updates, presentations, expert’s panels and karaoke. This year was my first-time attending Perspectives. It did not disappoint. With everything going on, I could have used another day. […]

Perspectives19: A Customer-Centric, Music-Filled Experience
Daniel Pink during his Perspective’s keynote

Who doesn’t love company conferences, right? A three-day jam-packed event filled with networking, knowledge sharing, software updates, presentations, expert’s panels and karaoke. This year was my first-time attending Perspectives. It did not disappoint. With everything going on, I could have used another day.

For me, the most valuable takeaways stemmed from the many one on one conversations I had with customers. Speaking directly to customers and absorbing their stories increased my knowledge not only from a software but also from an organizational perspective. What are they doing differently? How can I take their successes and share them with other clients? We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we need to share our collective knowledge more often.

Here’s Anthony Barbone, Senior VP and GM, SumTotal Systems talking about our latest releases.

Perspectives also provided me with the unique opportunity to interact with the SumTotal leadership team. For those of us who work from home, it is often a struggle to connect with the senior executives at your organization and talking on the phone or doing a video chat can only accomplish so much. Having worked at other large organizations, I believed it would take a miracle to cross paths with the head of sales, an SVP or a Chief Operating Officer (COO). Not so at SumTotal. Over the three days in Orlando these folks were in my meetings, talking to our customers and just generally everywhere doing their best to reinforce the SumTotal brand. It felt really good to sit down with these leaders and get to know them on a personal level too.

In between meetings with clients and prospective customers, I attended several sessions. The keynote presentation from Daniel Pink sticks out in my mind. Everything he spoke about he backed with scientific fact, and I now know the ‘perfect time’ to do tasks throughout the day. It makes sense now why I’m the most productive between 6 am and noon and why later in the afternoon I start to lose steam. His book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” is well worth the read!

On Tuesday, I attended Craig Weiss’s session, Battle Royale – LMS v LXP. Craig did a fantastic job of explaining the differences between a learning management system and a learning experience platform and how each is beneficial to organizations. Many companies think that they need one or the other when in reality, they should invest in both. These systems have some overlapping technology, but they are designed for two very different purposes. To learn more, read the blog by Apratim Purakayastha, our CTO, How to Determine the Best Learning Platform for Your Needs.

Later that day, I sat down with a few of our partners to learn more about their strategies. RapidLD, GP Strategies, Chasma and dominKnow are just a few companies with whom I spoke. I’ve had a handful of conversations with each over the past year, but meeting them in person is entirely different. Each partner brings something unique to the table. From implementation and consulting to dashboarding and content authoring, these partnerships are powerful for our customers. SumTotal is doing an incredible job of offering clients a partner ecosystem to help them execute on their strategies. Sometimes, our customers “don’t know what they don’t know” and it’s our job to help teach them.

A glimpse of the sights on City Walk, Universal, Orlando

Tuesday evening was a blast! We had three hours at City Walk in Orlando with food, drinks, entertainment, dancing, networking, and karaoke. In other words, the perfect setting for everyone to unwind after a long day full of presentations and discussions about talent development and learning strategies. It was also another excellent opportunity to meet more customers. Expanding my network and ‘reach’ is one of my passions so when possible I’d take out my phone and invite these people to connect with me on the LinkedIn. Why does the conversation have to stop at the conference? Maybe there is something I’ll share on LinkedIn over the next few years that will help them in their job. Who knows!

Day three brought even more fantastic sessions. I sat in on Learning Management: Latest Innovations & The Road Ahead with Jim Poisson of the product management team. Jim took the room through an update on what’s coming from SumTotal. As a sales director, Jim’s session brought me up to speed on the roadmap and what updates and enhancements to expect. Seeing our customers react and share feedback was incredibly exciting. Our customers help shape our product, so watching their eyes light up when they see that their suggestions are part of the solution is especially rewarding.

(Left-right) Su Joun, Stacey Gordon, Jennifer Brown and Heide Abelli

Fortunately, I was able to attend the final panel discussion on Enabling Diversity & Inclusion in the Modern Workplace Panel before catching my flight home. What a powerful conversation. Diversity and inclusion is an ever-evolving conversation in the workplace, and it’s great to be a part of an organization that is leading the charge.

You never know what to expect from a user conference. Some hit the nail on the head and some miss. For me, Perspectives hit the bullseye. More than 1,100 customers, partners and employees came together with one common goal — how do we attract, train, engage and retain our most significant asset! Organizations are not successful without their people.

Already, I am looking forward to 2020’s Perspectives event. If you need help convincing your company to let you go, reach out to your Customer Success Manager so they can help you establish a business case! I look forward to meeting all of you next year.