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March 23, 2022 Amelia Wilcox

Building a Culture of Feedback, Not Just An Effective Employee Review Process

An effective employee review process should help employees build skills on and off the job, in many areas of life. Gone are the days of sitting in a board room and having a review once per year!

If you’ve ever dreaded a performance review as a manager, or you are an HR leader that is wanting to change your company’s formal review process, this article is for you.

We’ll walk you through creating a culture of feedback—a modern employee review process with your direct reports.

43% of highly engaged employees get feedback at least once per week. Here’s how to give great feedback beyond the annual employee review.

Building a Culture of Feedback

We’re seeing some newer perspectives on holding an effective employee review process. Here are a few:

  1. Regular one-on-ones
  2. Consistent feedback
  3. Encouraging peer-to-peer feedback
  4. Employee review apps and programs
  5. Ask for feedback yourself

1. Regular one-on-ones

Employee one-on-one meetings aren’t just a trend. They make a massive difference in nearly every aspect of your company.

Think of them as a super informal weekly employee review.

Consider this—employee-manager relationships are just like any other relationship. They need shared experiences and conversations to grow.

Especially in a remote work environment where more and more employees struggle with loneliness, one-on-ones are crucial to keeping employees connected to your organization.

At Nivati, it’s common for managers to spend half of their weekly one-on-ones talking about stuff unrelated to work.

Why? If employees don’t feel safe, heard, seen, and supported at work, you both are missing out on their full potential.

Since we’re all about supporting mental health, we are pretty open about our mental health struggles. This helps employees get the support they need personally and professionally.

When employees feel they can be themselves at work, they will be more open to feedback and perform better.

2. Consistent feedback

The one-on-one is just the beginning.

Instead of giving feedback once per week—or even once per year (oof!)—try giving continuous feedback throughout the week.

Think:

  • Random Slack messages
  • Prompt feedback on projects
  • Spontaneous video calls to walk through a task
  • Shoutouts in the company or team-wide group chats
  • Providing team feedback during weekly team meetings

Bonus idea: some of Nivati’s employees have a personal “Positive Feedback” or “Mood Boost” document where they keep any positive feedback or recognition from their coworkers. Whenever an employee needs a mood-booster, they can read this document. Maybe something to suggest to your direct reports!

3. Encouraging peer-to-peer feedback

An effective employee review process requires more than just feedback from managers.

Teams should help each other grow. Employees value coworker feedback as well as manager feedback!

Here are some ways you can encourage peer-to-peer feedback:

  • Use Volley to share shoutouts and positive feedback with your entire team
  • Share shoutouts on Slack or your company group chat
  • Spend some time during your company-wide or team-wide meeting giving positive feedback to each other
  • Encourage employees to DM or email coworkers that have helped them out lately to say thank you
  • Encourage employees on the same team to review each other’s work, where appropriate

4. Employee review apps and programs

There are some pretty sweet apps that make employee recognition and reviews more fun.

Here are some popular ones:

Bonusly

Bonusly provides a platform where employees can publicly recognize their coworkers. Employees can rack up points to redeem gift cards and custom rewards like a free lunch.

There is also an option for managers to create surveys to gather employee feedback.

Workhuman

Workhuman includes tools for peer-to-peer recognition and continuous employee recognition. They even have tools to help your team celebrate milestones and personal life events together!

Related: Top 7 Best Employee Recognition Apps & Programs to Improve Culture

5. Ask for feedback yourselfBuilding a Culture of Feedback, Not Just An Effective Employee Review Process—two women smiling with notebooks in front of them in corporate office

It can be hard to pump out feedback all the time without getting some recognition and feedback yourself.

During a one-on-one with an employee, consider asking for feedback from your direct report. Here are some ways to ask for feedback:

  • How can I better support you in your role?
  • What can I help you better with?
  • How would you like to spend our one-on-one time today?
  • Is there anything I should stop, start, or keep doing?
  • What do you think of this process? Anything we can do differently to make it better for you?
  • I’ve been working on improving ___. Could you let me know if I make a mistake in this area?

Before asking these questions, make sure your mind and heart are open to the potential answers so that employees continue to feel comfortable providing feedback.

HR leaders can benefit tremendously by gathering lots of feedback and data by surveying all of your company’s employees. Here are some questions ideas for your next employee survey from TINYpulse:

  • Would you like to receive any training from us? If yes, please name at least three areas and explain why they’re important for your career.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how challenged are you on a daily basis at work?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance? And what do you think are the three most important contributing factors?
  • What motivates you to go above and beyond at work? Please name three motivation triggers that work for you.
  • Do you think our organization supports you in your professional development? Why?
  • Has a manager given you any recognition in the past month? How frequently are they doing it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how good is your direct supervisor at recognizing your contributions at work?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel providing upward feedback to your supervisor?
  • Have you seen any positive changes since we started collecting employee feedback? Name three of the most positive changes (feel free to add more).
  • Name three things you like most about working here (feel free to add more).
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how open are your peers to receiving different opinions from their own?

6. Bonus for HR: Manager training

Teaching your managers how to manage is pretty essential but often overlooked. The shift from working as an implementor to working as a manager is stark. They require entirely different skillsets.

59% of managers who manage one or two employees say they have received no management training.

98% of managers wished they had received more training.

Here are some things to consider training your managers on:

  • How to give feedback
  • Communication and conflict resolution
  • How to run a one-on-one meeting
  • How your company’s formal review process works
  • How to talk to employees about mental health
  • The resources your company provides employees to support them

If you’re looking for more insights on how to train your managers on mental health at work, check out the Manager Training Handbook.

For more on the employee experience, check out these resources:

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Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Awards
Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Education
Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Publications
Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)  

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE