Over the last two years HR professionals have been grappling with the idea of ditching annual performance reviews. Historically, both the employees and supervisors dread the annual review process, at the same time, many supervisors believe they have regular contact with their employees therefore there is no need for a formal process. Unfortunately, according to research from Leadership IQ only one-third of employees reported that they know how well they are performing.

Annual performance reviews and regular supervisor contact are not sufficient to effectively manage employee performance. What employees are asking for in addition to clear job expectations is frequent performance feedback. Especially when their performance is not meeting the company’s expectations.

Although there are reasonably priced performance management software programs designed to support continuous feedback, nothing is more effective than face to face conversations. Employees are more receptive to receive constructive feedback when it is tied to specific work related instances and given in a timely manner rather than storing up examples to present during their annual performance review.

The key to effective feedback is our attitude about both giving and receiving it. If Supervisors adopt the mindset of a coach when it comes to feedback, the dynamics of the exchange become more positive for both sides. Consider for a moment that you are an athlete and your coach notices your form is off and it is slowing you down. You would not only expect that immediate feedback but also resent if your coach waited until the end of the season to point it out.

When providing timely feedback ensure it is specific and actionable: start with your observation and end with your expected action. Keeping it simple will make it more likely that the recipient will follow through.

“I noticed that you were gossiping about another employee. In order to maintain a professional workplace, I need you to keep your comments respectful even when you believe no one else can hear.”

“I noticed that you were well prepared for your presentation; continue to prepare at that level and you will quickly increase your sales!”

Timely face to face feedback is intended to enhance rather than replace the formal performance review process your company uses. Small bites of information are easier to digest than large bites provided during an annual performance review.