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How to Give Meaningful Feedback: Recognition is 'the new performance review'

Over the past few years, a growing number of corporations have been ditching the annual performance review. Not only are they ineffective and a huge drain on corporate resources, critics complain, they’re largely subjective.

Many believe performance reviews are more likely to reflect a manager’s personal bias than provide objective information about an employee’s capabilities. That’s not all: according to a survey from Adobe, 22 percent of office workers admitted to crying after their review.

But that doesn’t mean employers should turn a blind eye to performance. Instead, they might want to provide real-time feedback and recognition, described by some as ‘the new performance review.’ It might be especially effective as managers cope with the challenge of managing and motivating a multi-generational crew.

“Today’s organizations are more multi-generational than ever before, with some organizations having up to five generations working together,” says Muni Boga, founder and CEO of Kudos Inc., based in Calgary, Alta. Kudos is a corporate social network and peer-to-peer recognition platform.

“This type of diversity delivers a competitive edge when the right environment is in place. Using a holistic and inclusive approach to creating the best employee experience is crucial. An essential part of this means using the best practices for meaningful real-time feedback and recognition to engage and grow all members of the team.”

Boga offers five tips on how to do just that:

Timing is everything. Give feedback and recognition in the moment. “If a moment of recognition is missed, the opportunity to positively reinforce the great things employees do is missed,” he says. “If a serious mistake is made and timely feedback isn’t given, the problem can worsen or lead to additional problems or mistakes.”

It’s all in the details. Be specific. “Feedback and recognition need to be clear, concise and to the point.” Focus on what was done really well or what needs to be done better to prevent confusion and create a better understanding of how the behaviour being addressed made a positive or negative impact.

Be sincere, caring and constructive. When giving feedback, let your human side shine through. “Feedback is meant to be constructive and improve things. It’s not meant to bring someone down or to make things worse,” Boga says. Similarly, when giving recognition, connect with the person on a personal level. Be direct, genuine and show you care.

Include behaviours, values, goals and skills. When giving recognition or feedback, don’t make it about the individual’s personality. Rather, make it about the behaviours and skillsets you value. “When appropriate, you can establish a clear connection between the moment of recognition and the overall arching goals, vision and/or mission of the organization,” says Boga.

Don’t wait for the outcome.

Sure, it’s good practice to look back at the end of every project, quarter and year and evaluate successes and roadblocks but don’t wait for those moments to give feedback and recognition. “Progress is evolutionary and it’s important to look for the moments in time where recognition and feedback are most impactful,” he says.

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