Continuous Feedback in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know

We answer all your questions on continuous feedback in this article. From frequency and best practices to integrating feedback with reward decisions and much more

7

min read

Most organizations today are in the midst of adopting a continuous feedback approach to improve employee performance and organizational success. If you have joined this bandwagon, you would have several questions in your mind around the same. Questions around the best practices, the common pitfalls, duration and frequency and much more. 

To help you leverage the continuous feedback framework, we have compiled a list of all the questions you might have along with answers from industry experts. 

#Q1. What is the frequency and duration of reviews for continuous feedback?

When it comes to continuous feedback, the idea is to make the reviews short and regular. Instead of making it a long drawn annual process, try to offer reviews which are frequent and to the point. The reviews can be as frequent as daily or weekly or monthly. 

PRO-TIP — Under continuous feedback, instead of focusing on a pre-decided timeline and frequency for reviews, go for an approach where you give your employees review and feedback when the need arises. 

For instance, if you have inputs or suggestions on the way a particular task has been completed, share it with your team members in real time instead of waiting for the review cycle to commence. 

Also, keep your reviews and suggestions concise and don’t elongate them just for the sake of it. Set the context and share your inputs. Therefore, when continuous feedback is concerned, the best frequency is to offer feedback in real time and keep it crisp and action oriented. 

#Q2. What are the best practices to ensure effectiveness of continuous feedback?

If you are part of a fast growing organization, you need to ensure that you adopt an effective and evidence-based approach to continuous feedback. Providing reviews and feedback to your employees in real time can be a great starting point. However, it is not enough to create a culture where continuous feedback contributes to continuous performance improvement

Here are the top best practices you can leverage to augment the effectiveness of your continuous feedback focus:

1. Track progress regularly

Continuous feedback will only lead to better performance when you have a clear picture of the employee's progress. If you don’t know where your employee stands and in which direction they are moving, you will not have anything concrete to share in your frequent conversations. Therefore, it is important to constantly track the progress of your employees and provide them with appropriate timely feedback. 

2. Encourage dialogue

Your continuous feedback will only be effective if you promote and encourage dialogue. Simply sharing your inputs and feedback on a regular basis with your employees will not suffice. Rather, you need to encourage your employees to share their side of the story as well as voice challenges and provide feedback to you as well. This way, continuous feedback will ensure that a culture of improvement comes to the forefront. 

3. Gauge employee pulse

To make continuous feedback effective, you need to have insights and intel on employee perceptions and opinions in real time. This will help you to preempt risks and address challenges in real time by providing appropriate feedback and support. You can do so by conducting employee pulse surveys which can go out on a daily basis. This employee pulse can help you lay the foundation of actions of your managers with empowering feedback. 

QUICK READ — Check out these articles to learn how to make the most of your employee pulse surveys —

4. Leverage technology

Finally, one of the key aspects to augment the effectiveness of continuous feedback is to ensure consistency and continuity. As a fast growing organization, you might be swamped with a lot of other priorities and continuous feedback might take a back seat. 

Here, leveraging a platform like SuperBeings which can automate capturing employee pulse, sharing key insights and providing next steps for managers and guided templates for conversations can help maintain the momentum. Therefore, you must consider leveraging the right tools and resources to stay on track. 

Get a hands on experience on how SuperBeings can drive continuous feedback in your organization, book a free demo today.

#Q3. How can fast growing organizations embed ongoing feedback in their flow of work?

As mentioned above also, to make continuous feedback effective, you need to have a consistent approach. One of the best ways to achieve the same is by embedding continuous feedback in the very culture of the organization. The idea is to see it as a part of the flow of work, rather than an added responsibility. 

Here are a few ways to embed ongoing feedback into flow of work:

1. Focus on constructive conversations

To begin with, you need to focus on conducting constructive conversations regularly. When it comes to continuous feedback, it is not always about sharing with your employees where they can improve. It is equally about sharing some insights with them and learning from them how they feel and how work is going, what are the challenges they face etc. 

Therefore, if you focus your efforts towards ensuring regular constructive conversations as a part of your workday, feedback continuity will be taken care of. Here you can also focus on creating a culture where 1:1 conversations are a norm. 

Use a tool like SuperBeings to provide your managers with AI driven 1:1 meeting recommendations, conflict free time slots for 1:1 meetings whenever they need and guided templates for all crucial conversations.

SuperBeings Guide Templates Page

2. Build a cadence

It is important that you set a cadence with all your team members. It could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, depending on the role and responsibilities and the relationship you share with them. 

While you must offer feedback in real time, this cadence will become a part of your schedule to ensure that even when there is no apparent review to offer, you do connect with your employees on a regular basis, without it becoming an added burden. 

When it is there in your calendar, it will be a part of your tasks for the day, and will not require any extra effort. SuperBeings integrates with your favorite calendar based on your feedback needs and helps you find conflict-free meeting slots with any one or more of your team members.

SuperBeings Google Calendar integration

3. Make feedback a core value

Next, you must focus on making feedback a core value for your organization. You would agree that for most organizations, there are certain values which are very important and can be seen being practiced by almost every employee. You need to make feedback one of the values. 

If you are able to do so, continuous feedback will come as second nature to everyone in the team and will become part of the day to day expectations, rather than an added one. 

#Q4. Performance Reviews vs. Continuous Feedback: How to keep them separate?

If you are moving towards a continuous feedback approach, you might gradually realize that your regular ongoing reviews are replacing your performance reviews. There is often this challenge that most organizations face. 

However, it is extremely important to keep the two as distinct because while the former focuses on real time challenges and concerns, it does not offer a holistic picture of the employee’s performance and will not be enough to assign appraisals, long term rewards and career planning

Fortunately, there are a few ways in which the distinction between the two can be maintained and you can prevent continuous reviews from engulfing performance reviews:

1. Set dates for annual/bi-annual performance reviews in advance

The first step to avoid this is by not doing away with annual or bi-annual performance reviews and communicating the dates or the timeline for the same in advance. This will give out the message that while ongoing reviews are important, you are equally committed to performance reviews in the long run.

2. Emphasize on the difference and importance of each

Second, it is important to emphasize the difference between the two and highlight the importance of each. You need to make your team members understand that while ongoing reviews seek to address challenges in real time and preempt any major risk, performance reviews seek to focus on long term performance improvement and gauge the impact of employee performance on organizational success and vice versa. 

Ongoing reviews have a more short term and immediate focus and seek to ensure everyday work efficiency. Performance reviews set the tone for long term performance improvement and have a more pronounced focus. It is extremely critical to communicate this to your managers and executives, who are then responsible for ensuring that the same reaches their team members. 

3. Have distinct parameters for evaluation

If you wish to prevent ongoing reviews from taking place of performance reviews, you need to have distinct parameters for evaluation of both. If you have similar parameters, your managers will have a hard time differentiating between the two and the whole purpose will be defeated. 

Therefore, your ongoing reviews must focus on metrics of task and project completion, while the performance reviews should include parameters like organizational impact, personal and professional growth, etc. 

4. Identify different forms of continuous feedback

Another way to prevent continuous feedback from taking place of performance reviews is to expand the scope of what continuous feedback entails. The idea is to broaden the idea beyond performance and goal setting to include different factors that influence employee experience

Your continuous feedback could focus on augmenting engagement and talking about creating an empowering culture. 

While your performance review will solely focus on the employee and how his/her contribution has been to organizational success, continuous feedback can take care of several other factors which enable employee growth and development

#Q5. How to align continuous feedback with rewards decisions?

There are several ways in which continuous feedback can ensure that rewards and recognition happen in the most effective and meaningful manner. Following are a few aspects that you need to keep in mind —

1. Eliminate bias from recognition

In the first instance, if you look at annual performance feedback, you might see that it is vulnerable to various forms of biases which come along when feedback is delivered after long intervals. Two of the most common biases include halo or horns effect and recency effect. 

a) Halo or Horns Effect

In halo or horns effect, your judgment of an individual’s performance might be clouded by a singular positive or negative event. Here you will end up seeing their entire performance with a tinted lens. 

However, when you leverage continuous feedback, you are able to leverage real time performance insights which prevent you from making rigid assumptions about a person’s performance on the basis of a single event. 

This will enable you to make fair rewards and recognition. It will help you recognize the efforts and performance the way it is and prevent you from anchoring your reward decisions only on one or two instances of employee performance. 

b) Recency Bias

In the recency effect, you might be vulnerable to gauging the performance of your employees based on the most recent events. 

In an annual feedback approach, you might end up taking into account only the most recent aspects of the performance, which will only give you a myopic view. However, with continuous feedback, you can eliminate the recency effect and offer feedback in real time to ensure that every aspect of employee performance is given due credit and their rewards and recognition give a holistic picture of their performance. 

Quick Read — Read Employee Recognition 101 to learn everything about implementing employee recognition programs the right way.

2. Facilitate continuous recognition and motivation 

Continuous feedback is also a great tool to create a culture of continuous recognition. This has the potential to improve organizational score on factors like engagement, motivation, retention and an overall positive employee experience. 

Continuous feedback can be aligned with rewards by creating a continuous recognition program to appreciate and reward performance in real time

  • You can make an instant effort to acknowledge the contribution of your employees in public (if that’s the culture) to encourage others also to keep a consistent level of performance throughout the year rather than only on days close to the performance review.
  • Continuous feedback can help you in recognizing efforts and good work as well as giving credit when credit is due rather than postponing it to the end of the year.
  • It can help facilitate and fulfill the human need for instant gratification with the right praise at the right time. 

More often than not, when you delay recognition due to lack of real time and continuous feedback, its impact reduces considerably and it fails to act as a motivation tool for the employees. 

#Q6. How to train managers to give constructive continuous feedback?

One of the final questions that you might be struggling with would revolve around giving your managers constructive feedback in a continuous and regular manner. Here are a few ways in which you can achieve the same:

1. Capture employee data

To offer constructive and continuous feedback, managers need to be armed with employee data. This refers to not only having relevant data points about employee performance and achievements, but also insights on what they feel and their opinion about the work and workplace. Constructive and continuous feedback stems from hard evidence based on which you can have a rational conversation for improvement. 

Pro-tip — SuperBeings’ intelligent Sentiment Analysis can take your employee understanding to the next level. Book a free demo today to see it in action in your organization.

2. Practice active listening

For feedback to be constructive, as a manager, you can’t simply share your point of view and expect the employee to absorb and execute the same. You need to give them a chance as well to explain why certain things panned out the way they did. 

Furthermore, you need to understand from them what their plans are and how they seek to grow professionally and personally. For continuous feedback to actually be effective, you need to engage in dialogue because just listening to your monologue will end up frustrating your team members, because chances are that without their perspectives, you will end up repeating yourself every time. 

Quick Read — Check out this list of 50 questions to ask in your next 1:1 meeting to ensure you are talking about what really matters.

3. Offer specific solutions

One of the key aspects of constructive feedback is to ensure that some action points or next steps or solutions are discussed. Simply sharing with your employees what is working and what is not will not suffice. 

This becomes even more important when the feedback is continuous because you are talking about challenges in real time and simply stating the problem without brainstorming on a possible solution is self defeating. 

This does not mean that you have to force ready made solutions for your employees. Rather, it is important to have a good conversation to collectively identify potential solutions. 

#Q7. What are the challenges to developing a culture of continuous feedback?

When you implement the continuous feedback framework in your organization, you will realize that there are certain risks and challenges that are likely to come your way. It is best to anticipate them beforehand and be prepared with appropriate solutions to ensure that they don’t retard your growth and hinder performance improvement. 

Some of the common pitfalls that managers all around the world have come across include:

1. Lack of consistency

The first common pitfall that stands in the way of continuous feedback success is the lack of consistency. A continuous approach to feedback requires dedicated and consistent efforts towards tracking employee performance and creating feedback on the same. However, due to various priorities, fast growing organizations tend to lack consistency when it comes to feedback.

This is why it is crucial to use a continuous feedback tool that will automate the process and supply managers with timely action recommendations.

2. Lack of manager buy in

Second, continuous feedback requires a lot of effort on the part of managers and leadership to provide the right inputs and also engage in dialogue with their employees. As opposed to annual feedback, they need to spend more time and effort on continuous feedback and that too on a regular basis. This generally leads to a resistance from the managers and an unwillingness to change the status quo.

3. Limited resources

The next common pitfall to continuous feedback comes in the form of limited resources, both human and capital. Most fast growing organizations are constrained by the availability of resources. 

Therefore, even if there is a motivation to focus on continuous feedback, activities which have a direct impact on the bottom line (such as goals and OKR check-ins) take precedence. Often, organizations lack dedicated resources to manage the entire continuous feedback spectrum, which adds to its ineffectiveness and limited success. 

4. Inability to follow up with action steps

Finally, for continuous feedback to bear results, it is important that feedback and reviews are followed up with action items that indicate change. However, for many organizations, feedback is seldom backed by action and next steps. 

Invariably, when there is no action following the feedback, due to either lack of expertise or limited managerial competencies or lack of insights and industry best practices, level of performance improvement is negligible. 

Final thoughts

We hope that we were able to answer most of your questions on continuous feedback. In case you have any more queries, you can reach out to us directly. In our experience of working with fast growing organizations, we have realized that most of them benefitted highly from partnering with platforms like SuperBeings. 

Leveraging such a platform can help you ensure that on one hand, there is a consistency and continuity to your feedback approach and on the other, there are concrete next steps and way forward after the feedback which is regularly tracked to ensure effective results. 

Book a demo today to get a flavor of how continuous feedback can automate your performance and 360 reviews with a highly flexible system built for reducing admin work and rater bias.

Sudeshna Roy

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hi There! I am Sudeshna. At SuperBeings, I lead our content strategy to bring you the best and latest on everything related to people management

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OKRs
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min read

Agile and OKRs: What You Need to Know to Thrive in a VUCA World

It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.

While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we will focus on:

  • Relevance of agile and OKRs in the VUCA world
  • Importance of leveraging agile techniques for OKRs
  • Best agile and OKR framework for growing organizations

Why you need to reimagine goal setting in the VUCA world

Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:

  • Annual or multi-year goals with little or no interventions at regular intervals to realign on changing priorities
  • Top-down approach — goals being set by those at the top with minimal inputs from those working on the ground
  • Only annual feedback cycles and the inability to identify or address challenges in real time
  • Lack of flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or situations, which are uncertain and ambiguous

This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions. 

However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive. 

Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:

  • Increased globalization requires businesses to be agile and adapt to changes at all times
  • Focus on creating short term goals and action plans
  • Need to relook at business priorities due to changing market conditions and customer expectations 
  • Need to incorporate constant feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • Need to focus on collaborative goal setting over top down command

Relevance of agile and OKRs for growing organizations

While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —

  • OKRs can help you understand the end goal and envision what success will look like. 
  • On the other hand, the agile methodology can enable you to create the right roadmap with frequent experimentation to reach the OKRs successfully. 

Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:

  • Set shorter goals for each quarter with the flexibility to look at the results in real time
  • Agile iterations based on learning which can be communicated across teams 
  • Shorter feedback cycles which prevent investment losses that might occur if the whole project/ goal has to be reworked
  • Continuous improvement with frequent retrospectives which can enable you to reflect on what is working well
  • Focus on collaborative goal setting and performance management with team autonomy
  • Agile approach to progress tracking

How to use agile techniques for OKRs

Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world. 

Agile Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Ensure collaborative OKR setting, assigning OKR champions and the right team members to execute the same
  • Facilitate clear understanding and communication of the intention and expectation behind each OKR and the responsibility for every team member

Agile Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Focus on clear outcomes and key results instead of comprehensive literature on why something is important
  • Facilitate shorter feedback cycles to gauge challenges early on and ensure feasibility of the OKRs
  • Reduce administrative overheads and complex processes related to OKR setting and progress tracking by using a simple, integrated OKR tool

Agile Value 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Ensure continuous development by taking real time feedback from internal customers i.e. stakeholders in the leadership

Agile Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

  • Facilitate dynamic planning over a static plan with quarterly OKRs
  • Ensure adaptability to change, uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Promote short cadence to gauge achievability and relevance of key results early on

Best agile and OKR framework

In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework. 

We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR 

This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:

1. Create value based OKRs

  • Focus on creating value based OKRs instead of activity based
  • Activity based OKRs are effective for specific projects, but for organizational goals, the focus should be on value
  • Instead of focusing only on the outcomes, have a clear understanding about how each of the outcomes can create value for the organization
  • The activities for each OKR should be a part of the agile roadmap and not the end destination

If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals. 

2. Facilitate horizontal alignment for shared OKRs

  • Encourage collaborative OKR setting with realistic timelines and short intervals
  • Make OKRs team/ department specific and acknowledge avenues for collaboration and alignment between teams on shared OKRs
  • Acknowledge OKR dependencies between teams and facilitate transparency and horizontal alignment
  • Avoid splitting OKRs for a shared goal between teams, rather create opportunities for working together

For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.

Objective: Successfully execute the 7th edition of our annual event

Key Results

  • Get 1000+ unique registrations
  • Raise INR 20,00,000 in sponsorship
  • Curate 5 high impact panels
  • Get 10+ media and affiliate partners
  • Get 5000+ impressions on social media with organic promotion

If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams

3. Combine quality and quantity results

Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:

  • Use OKRs to validate goals set using the agile methodology
  • Ensure each key result has a quantitative (data) and qualitative aspect (value)
  • Use a combination of agile and OKRs to ensure that your progress is positively impacting the organization

The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management. 

4. Promote use of data

  • Leverage data and evidence to create your agile based OKRs
  • Instead of creating OKR based on leadership opinion alone, validate the same with market study
  • Don’t rely completely on hypothetical representation, undertake primary and secondary research to ensure relevance and perceived achievability

Pro-tip:

Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%. 

However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.

5. Build self organizing teams

  • Provide you teams with a clear idea of what the larger vision looks like
  • Encourage them to set their own OKRs and help with a direction to achieve the same
  • Facilitate team autonomy and empower your team members with the right tools and resources like SuperBeings to not only set OKRs, but also track progress in real time and grade them at the end of the cycle. (Learn more)

Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction. 

Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Furthermore, leveraging the right technology resources can help you stay on track and enable you to thrive in the VUCA world. 

OKRs
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min read

How to Create a High Performance Culture Using OKR Methodology?

Like most fast growing organizations, you might also be leveraging the OKR methodology to set, implement and facilitate effective goal setting to maximize growth. If not, you should start using OKRs ASAP.

OKRs not only provide an excellent goal setting framework but also drive high performance when implemented strategically. Most importantly, with enhanced goal visibility and transparency, OKRs ensure that everyone is on the same page which is the foundation of a cohesive and high performing culture. 

In this article, we will discuss 8 ways in which you can adopt the OKR methodology to build a thriving company culture.

Use OKR methodology in 8 ways

1. Focus and clarity

A high performance and thriving company culture is based on the foundation of clarity and focus. When there are 100 things to focus on, your employees will eventually lose sight of what’s actually important and might feel burdened with non-priority tasks. This will lead to a poor employee experience and limited productivity, both situations that prevent an impactful culture.

However, when you apply the OKR methodology, you will be able to limit your focus on 3-5 top priorities which will attract attention, energy and efforts across the organization. You will then be able to create a high performance culture by dedicating all your resources to the key priorities to realize impact. 

2. Collaboration and alignment

A culture that thrives on collaboration, teamwork and alignment is one which creates maximum impact. The OKR methodology can help achieve this in an effective manner. On one hand, everyone is clear about their role in the OKR achievement, which makes collaboration seamless because everyone is on the same page and no one steps on the shoes of others. 

On the other hand, OKRs can help your employees align their responsibilities and tasks with the overall vision of the organization, motivating them to contribute to the big picture. 

To learn more about how to align teams using OKRs, read this

3. Agility and resilience

Recent times have shown that uncertainty and ambiguity will continue to mark the new normal. Thus, a culture of agility, resilience and responsiveness is critical for fast growing organizations. The OKR methodology can help achieve the same. 

OKRs are cognizant of the changing environment and have the flexibility to be adapted to the same. 

More importantly, you can leverage the OKR methodology to foster a culture that focuses on outcomes and is not fixated on the tasks to achieve the outcome at hand. 

4. Continuous engagement and reflection

One of the top challenges of building a great company culture is a siloed approach and annual reflection. This leads to surfacing of major risks and problems which result in high rates of attrition, absenteeism and lower levels of motivation, productivity, etc. 

However, the OKR methodology adopts an approach of continuous engagement and reflection. You can create a regular cadence to check OKR progress for each of your team members, even daily is effective. 

This continuous engagement and reflection can enable you to preempt risks before they surface and leverage the power of communication to address them in real-time. Invariably, a culture built on continuous engagement leads to greater impact and high levels of performance as well as employee satisfaction. 

5. Transparency 

The lack of transparency is one of the key obstacles for many fast growing organizations that seek to create a thriving company culture. A way out often seems difficult to navigate. Fortunately, the OKR methodology can help address this challenge as well. When you use OKR, especially with the support of an effective OKR tool, you can facilitate high levels of transparency. 

Everyone in the organization will not only know their role, but also will have a complete view of the level of performance for others. Such transparency can help you increase coordination of efforts and give everyone the visibility of what’s happening across the company. 

6. Non-hierarchy

You may agree that most fast growing organizations these days seek to replace a strict hierarchy with a more flat organizational structure that facilitates inclusion of diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions. However, many struggle when it comes to actually implementing this thought. 

Adopting OKRs can solve this problem.

By nature, the OKR methodology is based on a collaborative foundation where a top-down approach compliments a bottom-down approach for goal setting. 

This suggests that while the skeletal structure of the goals might be laid down by those in the top leadership, you can give all employees the freedom and autonomy to create OKRs for their teams and verticals. 

When your employees participate in setting the OKRs they have to execute, the level of ownership is much higher. Thus, you can leverage the OKR methodology to create a thriving culture built on greater ownership and a flat organizational structure. 

7. Open communication and feedback

With a focus on continuous engagement and reflection, the OKR methodology can help you facilitate open communication and feedback. Many studies have shown that a culture that facilitates regular feedback along with open channels of communication is more likely to thrive than one which does not. 

In the OKR methodology, when you constantly track your OKR progress (download our free template for tracking OKRs), you will be armed with data backed insights to offer regular feedback for your employees. Furthermore, you can also leverage the same to start meaningful conversations with your team members in case you feel that there is any kind of disconnect. Such open communication can help you create a truly inclusive culture when employees feel their voice is heard. 

8. Accountability and recognition

Finally, a company culture that thrives has two major components supporting it, accountability and recognition.

  • On one hand, only when your employees are accountable will they give in their 100% to create a high performance culture. 
  • On the other hand, if you don’t recognize the efforts of your employees frequently and in an effective manner, they are bound to feel demotivated with a lack of encouragement, leading to a poor employee experience and culture. 

The OKR methodology is an answer to both these challenges. 

  • First, being regularly reviewed, tracked and organization wide visibility makes accountability a given for fast growing organizations leveraging OKRs. Since everyone knows what the other person is responsible for, there is a development of a culture of accountability. 
  • Second, with regular tracking, monitoring individual progress becomes seamless for managers. Invariably, they can track the performance of their team members and recognize efforts in real time. This leads to a culture of recognition which is bound to see high levels of engagement, motivation and satisfaction. 

Empower your culture with the OKR methodology

Now that you know how the OKR methodology can help you in many ways to create a thriving culture, it is also true that as a fast growing organization with multi-pronged focus, leveraging OKRs is a challenging task. To address the same, you can collaborate with an integrated OKR tool like SuperBeings to automate the OKR adoption and maintenance.

With SuperBeings, you get to — 

  • Keep OKRs at the center of your business activities by aligning everyday tasks 
  • Reduce friction in goal management with zero context switching (by integrating Slack, Teams and Gchat)
  • Stay ahead of risks with a bird's eye view on key OKR status as well as compare progress over time with automated daily OKR tracking
  • Connect OKRs with Meetings tool to automate OKR check-ins and empower managers with data-backed AI driven actionable templates for meaningful conversations

Learn more about the OKR tool here. Otherwise, to see this in action, book a quick call with one of our experts. Also, get all your questions answered on the same. 

See Also

How to Run a Successful OKR Progress Review  

The complete guide to adopting OKRs (PDF)

Master OKRs in just 10 days: Free email course

Performance
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x
min read

How to Write Negative Employee Reviews (Examples + Templates)

With performance management becoming a critical part of organizational success, giving effective employee reviews is becoming a crucial part of a manager’s responsibilities. While regular employee performance reviews focus on illustrating the strengths and what worked for employees and the organization at large, there needs to be an equal focus on areas of development in case of poor work performance

If you look closely, writing negative employee reviews is often considered to be more difficult because the words need to be chosen very carefully. It needs to have a developmental tone rather than a critical one. 

What are negative employee reviews?

As the term suggests, negative employee reviews are reviews delivered to employees who have underperformed and need to be pulled up to the expected levels. It involves a variety of components which include:

  • Problem statement i.e. an illustration of poor performance, how it has been manifested and its impact on the overall organizational success
  • A clear understanding of the level of performance which is expected
  • A potential way or action items to correct the poor performance and improve

To get actionable ideas of how to deal with poor performance issues at work, read this

Writing and delivering negative employee reviews is very important for any organization that seeks to maintain a high level of employee performance. It is critical to ensure that:

  • Poor performers are aware of their level of underperformance and have a clear picture of what’s expected from them
  • Those who are underperforming get an opportunity to improve or face the consequences of consistently performing poorly
  • Underperformers are given the right support and guidance to improve their work and efforts to meet the expectations

Why should you be cautious of your words?

When you are writing negative employee performance reviews, you need to be extremely cautious of the words you choose. Using the right words will help the receiver acknowledge and work on the suggested points, while using words that are too harsh or critical can lead to adverse consequences. There are a few reasons which make the choice of words extremely important. 

  • The right words can help negative employee reviews focus on the developmental aspects and the impact of poor performance on the organization, rather than criticizing the person in general
  • They can help ensure that the job and the performance are the focus of the employee reviews and not the character or the personality of the person
  • Being cautious also ensures that the negative employee reviews don’t have a negative impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the employee and are taken in a constructive spirit.

The same review when offered with the right words can be more powerful and have a larger influence. 

For instance a statement like ‘you interfere too much in the work of others’ can be seen as a personal attack and may yield a defensive response from the receiver. 

However if you frame it in a different manner like ‘if you give others greater autonomy and freedom to work in their own way, you will be able to inspire greater creativity and innovation’, you will be able to put your message across and also help your employees understand how it will make a difference. 

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Tips for writing negative employee reviews 

In addition to being cautious of the words you use, there are a few other tips which you must keep in mind while writing negative performance reviews, including:

1. Keep it crisp and structured

While giving negative reviews is difficult, don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. However, instead of directly saying what isn’t going well, try adopting the sandwich approach. Start with a positive comment, add areas of improvement and end it with some suggestions and action items. 

Example: Tina has an excellent eye for detail and is very dedicated to her work. However, she often misses the deadlines which has led to a delay in 30% of her projects resulting in poor client experience. It would help her performance greatly, if she is able to prioritize her work better and keep an organized calendar for timely delivery. She can consider using the latest project management tools to facilitate better prioritization. 

2. Don’t get personal

Second, negative employee reviews should focus on the job or the role and not the person specifically. Steer away from using words or phrases which may end up combining performance and personality of the person. Your review should be specific towards performance challenges and not generalize that performance challenge is a personality trait.

Example: Instead of saying, “you are not punctual”, you can say that “I have seen you arrive late for meetings frequently, leaving shorter time for discussions. It would be best if you could be more punctual to respect others' time and make the most effective use of the same.”

3. Focus on progress

When you are writing negative performance reviews, you must focus on the progress and how a change in behavior and attitude can help them in the long run. Simply mentioning what went wrong and the associated process might lead to demotivation. 

Example: Some of your work has had grammatical errors in the past, maybe because you were trying to complete a lot at once. I am sure if you prioritize some tasks and create an action plan, your work quality will be better. 

4. Offer facts

Don’t simply give negative employee reviews about the problem area, but back it up with facts and data points. This will help you illustrate a pattern and establish that your review is not based on a single incident. Also, it will make your review more credible and authentic and not just a few words strung together. This will also help you in being very specific.  

Example: It has been observed that 40% of your customers claim that you don’t have adequate knowledge of your product, leading to a poor experience. 

5. Give examples

There might be some performance parameters which are difficult to add quantitative data points to. In such cases, you can offer specific examples of underperformance, especially if it has been repetitive. It is ideal to have at least 2-3 instances of poor performance to make your point stronger. 

Example: It has been noticed that in the aspiration to get your work perfect, you end up delaying projects. It was observed in project X with client A, project Y with client B as well as when the internal submission for Z was due. 

Pro-tip: Use our free Performance Review Phrases template to get 50+ examples of writing a negative review positively

How to deliver a poor performance review?

Once you write the negative employee reviews, you exactly know what you want to say to your employees. However, the way you deliver it also has a big impact on how it is received. To make the process simple, we have compiled a list of some of the best practices to help you deliver a poor performance review in the best way possible:

1. Connect in person

If you are delivering a negative performance review, it is best to do it in person, or if your team is remote, over a video call. If you deliver it over an email, you cannot be sure of the tone and context in which your words will be read. 

It might backfire by being read as more critical than developmental as per the intent. Furthermore, when you are delivering the negative reviews face to face, you can also use your gestures and body language to facilitate authenticity and empathy. 

2. Steer away from yelling

No matter how poor the performance has been, when you are delivering negative employee reviews, you should stay away from yelling or using foul language. Since the focus is on facilitating development for your employee, yelling will only defeat the purpose, making the employee demotivated and pushing them towards even lower levels of confidence and motivation. Furthermore, it will negatively impact your organization from an employer brand perspective. It can also create a negative impact on the wellbeing of your employees. 

3. Add anecdotes 

While delivering the review, you may want to add some personal stories or anecdotes if you have yourself been through something on those lines. This will help you connect better with your employees and make them trust you more. Furthermore, it can enable you to illustrate how they can turn poor performance into something better with a live example in front of them. 

4. Make it a dialogue

Your negative review shouldn’t be a monologue where you deliver what you have written with the employee absorbing it as a passive recipient. Instead, make it a dialogue by putting forward questions to understand the reasons behind poor performance and how you and the organization as a whole can help turn the table. Hearing their side of the story is extremely important before deciding on the next steps. 

4. Create a safe environment

When you are delivering negative employee reviews, you need to create a safe environment. It should not be harsh and the employee should feel comfortable in receiving what you have to offer. Also, make sure you deliver the review privately and not publicly shame your employee. They should see it as a developmental conversation in a safe environment, where they can also voice their opinions. 

5. Make it regular

Finally, negative employee reviews need to be regular and not come as a surprise to your employees at the end of the year. Regular reviews will give your employees enough room to improve their performance. Furthermore, it will give them a clear picture of what to expect when the year closes. 

To learn how SuperBeings can help you have guided conversations around negative performance review with AI recommendations based on performance and goals history as well as maintain a steady cadence to maximize the impact of such conversations, see this

Offer suggestions and follow up

After you have delivered the negative reviews to employees, the natural next step is to create a plan for improvement to help your employees reach the level of performance you expect out of them. This is a critical part of the performance management and talent development process for employees who have been consistently underperforming. Here are a few ways you can help your employees improve their performance.

1. Create action items collaboratively

If you have reached this level of negative employee reviews, you and your employee would be on the same page about their level of performance. Thus, it is best to create a list of action items that can help them improve their performance. To create the next steps, you must:

  • Ensure the steps are specific and not generic which only state the objective
  • Create steps which are aspirational, but achievable at the same time
  • Ascertain that there is an intended result for each decided step
  • Collaborate and brainstorm with your employee to create action items which are agreed upon by both
  • Align timelines and other factors to achieve success

2. Document the next steps

Next, your focus should not only be on planning the action items, but documenting them as well, because once they are out of sight, they’ll be out of mind. Furthermore, documenting them will help you remember the agreed steps and track progress every now and then. 

Clearly document what needs to be achieved, by when and how. It can be a good idea to encourage your team members to constantly document their experience as well to help discuss what has been working well and what needs to improve. 

3. Draft a Performance Improvement Plan (PiP) if needed

Depending on the performance issue, you may want to introduce a performance improvement plan for your employee. It is a formal tool to address performance challenges which outlines specific goals and expectations along with clear actions that need to be undertaken over a duration of 30-90 days.

For more details on PIP, check out A guide to implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP)

4. Set up a cadence

You also must set up a cadence to discuss performance improvements or challenges once the next steps are agreed upon. Unless you connect regularly to discuss the status, you might find yourself at square one at the end of the next performance review period as well. 

Depending on what needs to be achieved, you can set a weekly, fortnightly or monthly cadence to connect with your poor performers. While it may be seen as a regular review, it will also act as a reinforcer for them to ensure there is some improvement everytime the cadence to meet comes up. 

5. Define metrics

When you are determining the next steps, it is important to identify the associated metrics as well. For instance, if you want your employee to become more detail oriented, your metric can focus on reduction in errors by a specific percentage over a specific duration of time. 

The metrics will help you measure whether or not there has been an improvement in the performance as desired or not. At the same time, the metrics will help your employee move towards a specific goal. 

6. Follow up

While you have a set cadence, you may also want to check-in or follow up from time to time to make your employee comfortable enough to reach out to you in between your cadence for connecting. The follow ups can be over emails or calls or simple messages to check if everything is on track and to offer them any support whichever is needed. Especially in the beginning, you may need to check from time to time in case there’s any additional support that the employee needs to work on the action items. 

7. Evaluate progress

Finally, to ensure that your negative employee reviews translate to impact, you must focus on evaluating progress. Use the metrics you defined to gauge the level of progress and document it whenever you evaluate the same. This will help you establish a trend over time. 

Furthermore, if you feel the progress is below expectations, try to understand the rationale behind the same to check if putting the employee on a performance improvement plan will make more sense. 

Wrapping Up

By now, you must have gained a clear understanding of how to write, deliver and follow up on negative employee performance reviews constructively. If you are keen to learn how best to connect negative performance issues with regular 1:1 meetings with your team members with technology, book a quick demo with one of our executives. We would love to show you around :)

See Also

How to use Start Stop Continue feedback framework for high performance

10 performance review tips for managers that actually work

How to use employee coaching to unlock performance

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