In the last three years, the way organizations work has changed drastically due to the necessity to adapt to a new hybrid working model. Even after the end of the pandemic, the virtues of the hybrid working model are widely recognized and have been accepted, in light of the ever-expanding diversity in the workforce. In this model, working together from different locations in a fragmented way has posed operational challenges. However, the hardest part of it by far has been performance management. How can organizations manage performance when everyone is working at their own pace from a different location? How can the managers engage the scattered employees and build synergy in a hybrid work setup? The answers for these questions lie in Conversations, feedback, and recognition (CFR).
What is CFR ?
According to the “Measure what matters” book by John Doerr, the definition of Conversations, feedback, and recognition is as follows.
- Conversations: Conversations are “authentic, richly textured exchange between manager and contributor, aimed at driving performance.”
- Feedback: Feedback is “bidirectional or networked communication among peers to evaluate progress and guide future improvement.”
- Recognition: Recognition is the set of “expressions of appreciation to deserving individuals for contributions of all sizes.”
One of the most common methods of verifying the achievement of goals, and assessing and managing the performance of employees over a period of time is the employee performance review. However, it can be hectic for both the managers and the employees to go through full-fledged review. In the era of hybrid work set up, the distance only makes it more difficult to conduct reviews. It also exaggerates the feeling of being scrutinized remotely, distancing the employees from the managers and the organization.
So, business leaders agree that performance management and review should be a more ongoing process, Where long, structured reviews are either replaced or complemented by informal and continuous conversations between the manager and the employees. In CFR, the reviews, feedback and performance management are mainstreamed into frequent and casual conversations. This makes it possible for the managers to engage with the workforce and frequently talk about:
- How the OKR goals are set
- Whether the goals are achievable or not
- Clarifying the goals
- Challenges in achieving the goals
- Progress that employees have made against the goals
- Training needs
- Career plans of employees and whether they are on track
While the conversation element of CFR focuses on building discussions on goal setting and review, feedback is about exchanging ideas, constructive criticism and discussion of issues amongst the employees. Feedback promotes assessment of peers and colleagues, pushes everyone to identify issues and areas of improvement, and suggest ideas and workarounds to overcome the challenges. Feedback enables employees to look at others and bring themselves to the same page in terms of understanding their goals and performance. It promotes a two-way conversation between employees and managers with regard to what can be done better from both sides for better performance. Ideally an organization should have a continuous feedback culture, which transcends the barriers of hybrid work set up.
Feedback may be about:
- Any support that the employees may need in fulfilling the tasks and achieving goals
- Finding solutions and workarounds for the problems that employees are facing
- How they are currently performing and what they need to do to perform better
- The way managers support the team and individuals towards their goals
- Things that managers need to change or things they need to know to make changes in strategy and do course correction
Recognition is one of the most important motivational factors that drive performance. It plays a key role in retaining employees and stopping them from leaving. It is one of the components of CFR; after a conversational review, any small achievements or progress or meaningful contribution of employees towards the organization’s goals and priorities is publicly acknowledged and appreciated as a part of routine conversations, say in weekly check-ins or one-on-one meetings. Recognition can also be taken to other channels of communication, such as newsletters, emailers, blogs, etc.
I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.
Benefits of CFR for performance management
CFR enables continuous feedback
CFR enables two way conversations about problems and creates healthy discussions about problems and solutions. As a result, problems are identified early and the workforce collectively ideate and find solutions before they can affect productivity. Feedback promotes constant improvement for everyone, including the managers.
CFR removes barriers in review
Unlike conventional reviews, where the managers and leaders have to be careful about the performance review comments, CFR removes the element of scrutiny and brings performance management under the purview of mundane conversations. This brings managers and the team members closer together and enables them to work together.
CFR builds a culture of conversation and engagement
Conversations and feedback happen continuously in weekly meetings, one-on-one meetings or even in casual interactions, unlike in typical performance reviews. So, it presents managers with the opportunity to continuously manage performance and achieve consistent results day in and day out. When conversations happen regularly, the engagement levels increases in the organization, which is relatively more significant in a hybrid work setup.
CFR helps to learn from peers
When employees do peer reviews, they get to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their peers in relation to their own. This not only helps them improve their own performance, but also gives them a better understanding of their colleagues. This promotes more interactions, better team work and cooperation amongst the members.
CFR promotes timely recognition
Conventional performance reviews are conducted at longer intervals. As a result, recognition for employees’ achievements do not come on time; employees get recognized only at the end of the review period, which could even be a year. By that time, everyone would have moved on and forgotten the importance of the individual’s contribution. Getting appreciation for the work done a long time ago alienates recognition from the context of achievement. It does not give employees enough motivation to work better or stay with the organization. Recognition has to come at the right time. CFR makes sure that employees get timely recognition and appreciation for their efforts, when the achievements are still fresh in people’s memory. This improves employee retention and employee satisfaction.
CFR enables continuous performance management
Unlike periodical performance reviews, CFR happens continuously, as work related conversations happen everyday with ongoing feedback integrated in it. As a result, every potential area of performance improvement, including skill gaps are identified regularly, and every ounce of performance improvement is attained. Review of goals and the progress against them at all levels happens round the clock. So performance is goal-driven and more complete, as unstructured conversations bring a lot more out of the employees and managers on a daily basis.
CFR creates a healthy relationship between employees and their managers
The feedback given is bidirectional; while the employees are reviewed by managers, it happens the other way round as well. As a result, the employees have a say on how the team is run. It creates a healthy workspace where there is mutual learning across hierarchies. This brings the employees and the managers closer, which in turn makes conversations easier.
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5 Things to keep in mind when implementing continuous performance management through CFR
- Make it less intimidating and build a culture around conversations
The greatest disadvantage of a conventional performance review is how intimidating it is. It sends employees scrambling to recollect what they have achieved in the review period. It makes them go through a lot of data so as to not miss anything important, as it can make or break one’s career. CFR is different and needs to be adopted by the employees themselves in order to make it work. So, make it simple, straightforward and less intimidating so that employees start looking forward to conversations and embrace the feedback culture.
- Create a routine
When you implement CFR, it is important to have feedback on a regular basis. Postponing feedback and conversations makes CFR more like conventional performance reviews, accumulating the sheer amount of things that need to be shared in the review, resulting in employees forgetting something important and not having enough time to share detailed feedback. When obtained in scheduled feedback sessions, casual conversations, one-on-one meetings or weekly check-ins, it allows employees to give a more complete and detailed feedback. You can also organize regular CFR sprints, which are short periods of time with dedicated focus towards conversation, feedback and recognition.
- Promote objective feedback
CFR requires a lot of mutual appreciation and analysis, as employees will be regularly conducting peer reviews or 360 degree feedback. If the employees provide biased reviews for certain groups of employees, say women, then it does not stop with one person or group. It goes on to creating a blame culture, which has far reaching negative consequences across the organization. So, it is essential to train employees on how to base their reviews and feedback on facts and data, and be objective.
- Make feedback bi-directional
CFR needs to eliminate the image of managers as scrutineers. Everyone should be both reviewers and the reviewed. Allowing employees to review their managers helps them warm up to the managers while creating an engaging environment.
- Enable spaces for instant recognition
Create a work culture where every single achievement or a small positive step towards the overall goals gets noticed and appreciated immediately. Create platforms and spaces for instant recognition for this purpose.
How to provide continuous feedback in CFR
Feedback can be difficult to give, but it is important for the improvement of everyone. Leaders can familiarize themselves with apt performance review phrases so that the feedback is constructive without sounding judgemental or harsh.
- Be goal-oriented while giving your remarks instead of focusing on the person whom you are reviewing. This way you can provide as much feedback as you want without sounding personal or inappropriate.
- If you want to give positive feedback to your teammates, focus on their work habits. Negative, personal feedback will only hurt morale and it will not help the team succeed.
- Instead of judging someone’s personality or knowledge, you can focus on how they are doing in their position and how they contribute to the team’s overall objective.
- When giving feedback, it is important to think about what you want to achieve with this feedback. Feedback should be aimed at genuinely helping a colleague improve and not to make someone feel good.
- Provide feedback that is relevant and relatable to the person receiving it. Make sure that the feedback you mention is something that can help them with their work.
- It can be difficult to communicate your thoughts and ideas impulsively. So, prepare well before giving feedback. This will help you communicate clearly and coherently.
- Give specific feedback with examples so that team members understand and decide how best to implement it.
- Give your reasons for the criticism and objective feedback that you provide.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does CFR stand for?
CFR stands for Conversations Feedback Recognition.
- What is Conversations Feedback Recognition?
CFR is a means of continuous performance management. It works by mainstreaming performance reviews, feedback from employees and appreciation for their achievements into routine work related conversations.
- What is CFR management?
CFR management is the process of using tools and methods to initiate and promote dialogue, discussions and conversations amongst the employees so as to bring actionable feedback and manage performance through the review of goals as part of routine conversations .To learn more about CFR. You can get started on Profit.co completely free today!