Most of us have a very hard time completing that annual ritual: the employee review. We know how important it is to our folks, to managing expectations, and to improving. But somehow the chore always gets pushed to the bottom of the stack.
It’s time to change, not because we should (and we should), but because our employees are going to demand it.
Increased demand for feedback from younger workers is forcing some employers to rethink how they discuss employee performance. Often, the annual review just won’t cut it anymore.
These employers [IBM, Accenture] and others say they are responding to employee demand, particularly from younger workers. IBM says surveys show employees want more feedback. Managers say they notice more demands from younger workers.
How is that really different than past generations?
In a recent survey, 65% of "Generation Y" workers at Ernst & Young said "providing detailed guidance in daily work" was moderately or extremely important, compared with 39% of Baby Boomers. An overwhelming 85% of Gen Y employees said their age-group peers want "frequent and candid performance feedback," while only half of Boomers agreed. Generation Y included those born after 1980; Gen X, those born from 1965 to 1980; and Boomers, 1946 to 1964.
The demands for more feedback are part of what some analysts see as growing distinctions among workers of different ages.
So what can be done to accomodate the desire for more feedback?
Ernst & Young LLP a few years ago launched an online "Feedback Zone," where employees can request or submit feedback at any time. The system prompts employees twice a year to request feedback. The accounting and consulting firm assigns every employee a mentor and offers training for supervisors who routinely give feedback.
Feedback is a critical part of continuous improvement. The bureaucracy may be a chore, but in that case lean tools should be applied to reduce the waste and increase the value. That becomes all the more important now that employees are demanding more frequent feedback.