There is a lot of focus on the idea of continuous performance management or sometimes referred to as continuous performance assessment, the idea that feedback should be a continuous process and happen in the moment it matters. It’s hard to argue with the case for continuous feedback that should happen in a timely and relevant manner and we should, no doubt, welcome its place as a core process. However, there is a case to be considered that continuous performance assessment or management is somehow missing the point.
The world of work has transformed and we can no longer rely on the linear relationships of the past, where a Manager reviewed employees work and gave them feedback that they should discuss and align on. The world of work is far too complex for that, most employees work cross functionally, in multiple teams and sometimes with multiple managers and stakeholders. In such a world, it can become the norm for an employee not to interact with their manager on a daily basis but perhaps only see him or her intermittently, for updates and progress reviews. This gives the manager limited time to observe the quality of the work and whether their employee is living the values of the organization. In such a case, why would we limit feedback to being a linear relationship between the Manager and the employee only?
If we are to deliver on the promise of a workplace where feedback should happen in the moment it’s relevant and support the development of our people, we need to consider a fundamentally different approach. To transform our organizations, it’s time we considered the concept that feedback should be crowdsourced; come from a source of relevance wherever that source may be. It could be a stakeholder, a peer, a colleague, a Manager above a Manager. Feedback should come from any place where the intent is to help grow and develop the individual.
Reflecting on the way we live our lives, we don’t limit feedback to one relationship, we receive and give feedback instantly to multiple sources, sharing views, ideas and concepts through our social media networks. With the right level of consideration, our workplaces could reflect the best of this approach. It’s time to consider opening the channels of feedback to multiple sources, where feedback flows horizontally, vertically and upwards in our organizations, in an easy and intuitive way. Through this approach, we can fundamentally evolve the new world of performance management while addressing the growth and development of our people.
Continuous performance management serves only as an extension of what we have always done. It limits us to extending processes of the past, rather than transforming them and can only lead us back to where we started. A simple shift in focus from managing performance to supporting an individual’s growth, through a rich feedback culture, can transform the way we manage performance and usher in a new era for how we grow and develop our people.