Apps, Forms, & Rate-Yourself Rituals Do Not Feedback Make
Updated: Nov 3
Lots of CEOs and HR professionals have heard how honest, frequent feedback is crucial for developing people. They get that once-a-year performance reviews don’t cut it. They know employees pretty much hate performance reviews and that some other companies have nixed them completely. They know that everyone in the company wants to know how they can develop their career and their performance.
As these leaders search for solutions, they see and hear about new apps in which people rate each other in real time and other apps that offer more frequent performance reviews—like every 3-6 months—along with opportunities to publish “attaboys” across the whole organization.
All of these tools hold the promise of better, faster feedback to improve development and employee engagement. They seem appealing with cool graphics and mobile access. They appear easier to use than the grim old legalistic ratings forms.
Problem is: They are meaningless and even annoying if people are not willing to give honest feedback. I’ve interviewed leaders who are now mandated to use these tools and they consider the new tools “flavor of the month” or worse. Employees at all levels roll their eyes when describing the new apps or forms they are expected to use.
The truth is that no form is needed if people are willing to give and receive honest, frequent feedback that is related to the person’s work goals. With or without apps, new forms, old forms, or mandated frequency, a leader who cares about feedback can give it today, tomorrow, any day, or every day and see their employees deliver great results.
It is also true that any of these tools can be wonderful if the feedback givers and receivers really use them to give feedback that includes the specifics of how to improve.
The wonderfulness does require a belief change on each manager’s part—and, for a whole company to see positive changes, it requires enough belief changes to become a “culture change.”
Why is it so hard? Because being honest with people is counterintuitive and feels scary. But I promise you: If you and your team members start doing it, you will love the benefits. Any app you decide to use or not use will work magically!