In this month’s Sunday Telegraph column, I strap on my spelunking gear and explore the most feedback-deprived cave in our civilization: The modern workplace.  While the rest of our lives are rich in feedback — just look at the Tweet counter for this post or listen for the little sound your phone makes when you send a text — the workplace is barren territory.

The main mechanism for feedback on the job?

The annual performance review.

This is something that drives Millennials crazy. And their complaints often make their Boomer bosses cringe. But on this at least, Gen Y has a point.  And for them, as well as for us oldsters, I look at three ways — DIY performance reviews, peer rewards, and some groovy new software — to pump a little more feedback oxygen into our employment caves.

Previous Sunday Telegraph columns:

October: Is giving away your shoes the right business model for you?
September: What can a high school algebra class teach you about innovation?
August: Is the best vacation policy no policy?
July: Can you speak human at work?
June: Is Bob the Builder the ideal leadership role model?
May: Could ending sales commissions increase sales?

9 Responses to “Three ways to make the workplace richer in feedback”

  1. CoCreatr says:

    Feedback, is like a camera. The faster the picture develops, the faster the learning and improvement. Annual review may be useful to pick up on career development plans. Annual performance review as a part of managing by objectives is like … Well, you get the picture. Literally, that is what happens.

  2. Ben Knight says:

    Somehow I missed the August Netflix Telegraph column, that is a really great find, and even greater article!

  3. Dani Ticktin Koplik says:

    As in much of life, both things are true: Millennials are in need of constant feedback and the whole performance review process is seriously broken.
    In this case, Millennial voices happened to have hit on something important but it was by accident. I think that if official reviews were monthly or even weekly, they’d still be clamoring for feedback IN REAL TIME. Which is the point: their needs are more about the immediacy than the actual feedback. My anecdotally supported position is that they’re really only interested in POSITIVE feedback — which begs the question, how much of the “constructive” feedback sinks in?

    Which brings us to the other truth: the review process is broken. First, feedback is only worthwhile if two conditions are met:
    1)if it comes close enough to the event or action so it’s relevant to the employee, so the experience is fresh

    1a)if the course correction is small enough to be actionable. Waiting for long intervals makes for bigger hurdles, which then become intimidating and paralyzing

    2)if the person offering feedback can deliver it so that the beneficiary does not shut down, block out or resist. This requires dexterity and the emotional intelligence to allow the reviewed to gather their own insight.

  4. C. A. Hurst says:

    Great article, Dan!

  5. Pete says:

    Feedback (cable news, blogs) is not helping our politics.

  6. Jessica says:

    @pete — Is that feedback? Or just noise?

  7. Ruminator says:

    @Jessica — it’s not noise, it’s vitriol and very poisonous!

  8. Amy says:

    This was interesting to read, because I work for a large corporation where there *is* a lot of feedback. I also work within the HR pyramid, so everyone is emulating what a feedback culture looks like to the rest of the employees. And it’s not a rare thing to hear someone say, “I’m all feedbacked out.” And hardly any of the people that I work with — that say these things — is a millennial.

  9. Guy Farmer says:

    Thank you for the ideas Daniel. Your article makes me think of the importance of having an ongoing dialogue and open communication to exchange ideas and feedback. So much of our workplace feedback is formalized and cold rather than empathic and supportive. When the lines of communication are open and ongoing, leaders and employees can work together to improve even the most challenging situations.