Organizations pay employees with the expectation that employees will perform their duties to the best of their abilities. It is essential that companies organize regular employee performance reviews, so managers can evaluate the successes, strengths and weaknesses of an employee’s efforts and make decisions about their future within the organization.

But, how often should a manager talk to their workers about performance? That depends on how effective an organization hopes their performance reviews to be.

Wrong Answer: Never

Plenty of managers believe that it is fully the employee’s responsibility to perceive expectations about performance and maintain consistently high performance without feedback — but this is a misguided conviction. Organizations are constantly changing, in more ways than one. Business leaders come and go, and even large, stable corporations shift their objectives and strategies regularly to account for emerging trends in the market, different consumer behavior and other important influences. Thus, expectations for the workforce are subject to change over time, and the workforce needs direct contact with their managers to understand how their performance is keeping pace.

It can be difficult and frustrating for managers to fit performance reviews into their already stretched schedules, but the truth is that neglecting performance reviews entirely all but ensures consistently low performance, missed goals and poor organizational outcomes. Managers can take advantage of performance management solutions to make it easier to decipher employee performance and provide timely feedback. 

Satisfactory Answer: Annually

Annual performance reviews are easily the most common, and for a few good reasons. Managers can make time in their busy schedules to review employee performance once per year, even if they have several team members to review. Having a review on the books so far in advance gives both managers and employees time to prepare for the meeting, and it allows for enough time to pass between reviews for managers and employees to have performance examples to discuss.

However, the vast amount of time between reviews is also a concern. With annual reviews, there is a realistic possibility that there will be too many performance-related details to cover in a meaningful way during the meeting, which means employees have fewer opportunities to learn and grow. What’s more, if the next review is not for another year, employees might not work to implement desired changes quickly. Ultimately, annual performance reviews can work, but more frequent reviews can provide more positive results.

Better Answer: Biannually or Quarterly

Organizing several performance reviews throughout the year can improve worker performance in several significant ways. In addition to the alleviation of the problems created by annual performance evaluations, frequent performance reviews allow performance to be fresh in the minds of both manager and employee, so feedback is more likely to come from specific examples of recent activity. Additionally, frequent reviews give employees a more reasonable deadline to update their behavior, strengthen their skills or otherwise boost their performance, which means they are more likely to stay accountable to their commitments to improve.

The only downside to more frequent employee performance reviews is the extra time required of business leaders to compile information about performance and draft reviews. Streamlining review forms to account for the greater frequency of feedback can make this process faster and easier, reducing the workload for management.

Best Answer: Continuously

Managers do not need to reserve feedback about performance for a specific meeting that occurs in specific intervals; in fact, waiting to offer feedback to employees all but guarantees that the feedback will have less impact on future performance. Managers should feel free to provide feedback as the need arises — which means they should adopt a coaching style of management.

Coaches help their teams develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Unlike the traditional management style, which involves an abundance of top-down direction, coaching gives workers more autonomy to experiment with their tasks as well as more feedback to learn and grow from those experiments.

Employees rely on information from their managers to be effective in their work. Organizations and individual business leaders can determine for themselves the best interval for employee performance reviews — but generally, the more frequently a worker receives feedback about performance, the better.

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