Feedback is extremely useful. However, traditional performance reviews are not fun for anybody.
There are several reasons why people don’t like performance reviews:
- They are burdensome. A typical 360 degree performance review asks several people each to write several paragraphs for each person, often also asking to categorize their strengths and weaknesses. In general, at performance review time, if somebody works with 10 people, they are often writing 10-12 pages of feedback, and each manager is reading 10-12 pages of feedback for each of their reports.
- They happen too infrequently to be useful. At the same time, because they only happen once per year, they are often too disconnected from the actual events they are referring to for people to have specific enough feedback.
- They are an input into compensation and leveling. This often leads people to hold back on valuable feedback for fear of hurting a colleagues comp, and, even more consequentially, often leads people to have a self-reflection that is intended to best position themselves for raise or promotion rather than to truly reflect for growth.
All of this suggests a lighter-weight, more frequent feedback cycle, that is not tied to comp or level (and indeed, that only the person getting feedback sees). John Doerr suggests a process called CFRs (for Conversations, Feedback, Recognition). Distilling CFRs and adapting them to our context, they involve regular 1:1s with people (generally the stewards of the realms in which you steward roles and your mentor), where there is two-way advice solicitation and feedback. Some questions that can help kickstart these conversations (both parties can ask these questions of the other):
- How are you doing? What are the biggest things on your mind right now?
- How are your objectives coming along?
- Is there anything impeding your work?
- How can I be helpful?
- What advice do you have for me on X [e.g., this decision, this project, how I handled that meeting, how I need to grow in order to achieve my career goals]?
People may also request general feedback from others in writing, at a rate that feels comfortable to them, and also may give feedback to others in writing. However it is given, it should be divorced from comp and leveling.
Encourage a regular, lightweight feedback process, in which people meet regularly with people who work closely with them (for example, the stewards of the realms in which they steward roles), and give two way advice and feedback. Ensure that the feedback is only for one purpose, personal growth, and not used for comp or any other ancillary purpose.
Where it makes sense, use the Unfolding process to structure feedback: offering advice on strengths, weaknesses, and the most straightforward thing to do regarding each in the context in which feedback is being given. People may choose, individually, to mirror this with their Regular Self-Reflection, writing their self-reflections, sharing with others, and asking for feedback.