Continuous Feedback is More Than a Check-in

April 05, 2021

Performance reviews are a stressful time for everyone involved. The Human Resources Department has to chase people down, managers have to recall loads of information for those reporting to them, and employees worry about getting valid feedback. Every one of these groups knows that reviews are necessary – but what if there was a way to make this process less of a “let’s get these all done at once in December” to a “let’s do this over time.”  Good news: there is!

Continuous feedback takes place when, instead of (or in addition to) the annual review, companies encourage or require more regular feedback sessions between employees and their managers. These could be 1-on-1 meetings, or could be meetings scheduled specifically to discuss performance. Either way, they are set to provide more consistent performance conversations that help manager’s document performance throughout the year instead of focusing on a specific point in time.


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Continuous Feedback Means More Than a Check-in

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Why AEC Firms are Adopting Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback is increasingly important in today’s workplace as more employees are working remotely and teams are often dispersed. According to the Hinge High Growth Study - AEC edition, a third of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms have already introduced, or plan to introduce, part-time remote work, while 15% are downsizing their office space to reduce overhead and adapt to a more pervasive work-from-home culture.

Need more convincing that continuous feedback is important to organization success? During a recent webinar, we polled attendees to learn: a) what they liked about their process, b) what they didn’t like, and c) if the process is fair. See a theme that continuous feedback could help address?

  • It is very frustrating that I don’t get feedback in a timely manner.
  • I don’t have many conversations with my manager about performance, so when I get my review it is always a surprise. And sometimes the surprise is that they gave me a score based on what a completely different person did.
  • I don’t get enough feedback, and when I do it is old.
  • I like that my manager takes the initiative to set 1-on-1s and give regular feedback.
  • My manager doesn’t remember things I did a few months ago that met established goals.

Quick Tips for Implementing Continuous Feedback

Getting started with continuous feedback can be overwhelming, especially because it can be a big departure from the traditional way things are done. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some best practices when getting started.

As with many processes, preparation is an important aspect of success. Part of this is training to ensure that both managers and employees understand both the short- and long-term purpose of feedback sessions. There should be clear reasons why the meetings are being held with an agenda that includes set goals, rather than meeting just for the sake of meeting. Also, they boost employee engagement by providing opportunities to drive their careers, giving them some control over their goals, development and outcomes.

When a session is taking place, start by reviewing the purpose of the meeting, along with prior meeting notes, keys wins, and noteworthy challenges since the previous meeting, and progress to date on development and goals that have been established. Make sure that as a part of the core discussion, managers and employees are as forward-facing and open as possible.

Part of this discussion should look at past concerns and challenges and discuss what they learned from them, but the larger focus should be on how to move forward, and what the future development and goals can be. And, with the increasing prevalence of remote employees, make sure to include any concerns with remote working, especially for employees that may be feeling disconnected or disengaged with this structure.

At the end of the meeting, make sure to review the topics that have been discussed, along with action items, takeaways and expectations of progress before the next meeting.

While holding these sessions, keep the interpersonal aspects in mind. Managers can help keep their employees involved by:

  • Being on the receiving end more than the giving end.
  • Being ready only to steer, like assisting from the front passenger seat, rather than doing everything for the employee.
  • Practicing active listening with the intent to understand, not just waiting for your turn to talk.
  • Using the time to build and strengthen relationships.
  • Energizing and motivating employees by making sure each session is personalized to the employee. Take the time to know your employees and make sure they get what they need from the sessions.

Adopting a Culture of Continuous Feedback

Success Story: DB Sterlin Consultants

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A talent management solution, like Deltek Talent Management, allows your firm to create a culture of continuous feedback, monitor employee performance, and improve retention and engagement rates. You’ll more easily acquire, develop and retain the high performers that help your firm successfully deliver even more value on your projects. Learn more.