How do you know if your organization is successful? How do you gauge if your customers are happy? How do you evaluate performance? You pull data, you ask questions, and you set goals. This process happens often throughout the year to make sure your business stays on track and your customers are engaged. So, why is it when it comes to your employees, they only get that type of feedback and attention once a year? 

If you're still rocking the annual employee performance review, let's hope you do it well. Organizations have started to shift to a more modern feedback cycle in which employees always know where they stand, and receive frequent feedback so they can keep improving. 

The need for shorter employee feedback cycles.

Employee engagement rates have fallen to a concerningly low rate, and a lot of managers look around and wonder why. Could one of the culprits be the lack of feedback coming from organizational leaders? According to a Gallup poll, one out of five employees feel that their performance is measured in a motivating way. When you reserve performance conversations for a once a year occasion, you're not giving yourself the opportunity to properly set goals and coach your employees. How are your people supposed to remain engaged all year long if they only get one shot to receive and respond to feedback? 

By shortening your feedback cycle, you'll be able to spot early on when employee engagement starts to slip and prevent further disengagement. You'll also relieve some of the pressure off your employees (and yourself) knowing there's more than one chance throughout the year to set goals and evaluate performance.

Create an ongoing feedback loop.

Start with the big picture. You may not need to scrap your annual employee review altogether. This may serve as the building block to the rest of your review process. Set clear goals at this time that are measurable and can be broken down into action steps. Consider adding a quarterly check-in to follow up with employees and assess progress. 

Provide ways for your employees to see in real-time how they are progressing. Gamification is an easy way to deliver feedback without holding a review at all. Create a leaderboard that shows how your employees stack up against each other in categories like sales or training progress. That way, your employees always know exactly how they need to improve. Then, when the annual review comes around, there should be fewer surprises.

Ask for their feedback, too. 

Make sure to incorporate ways for employees to offer feedback, too. Send out a quick survey and utilize forums to ask questions or start conversations amongst peers. Employees will be much happier if they feel like they have a voice and their leaders actually listen. Nothing kills employee engagement like a work environment in which feedback only travels one way. 

Annual reviews are old news. To keep your employees engaged, focus on how to deliver feedback on a regular basis and be open to receiving a little feedback, yourself.