It’s human nature to want recognition for your efforts. At work this usually means a performance review from your manager. How often does that happen — once or twice a year? And who honestly enjoys the annual performance review? The question becomes how employees can know they’re doing a great job, and also exemplify the core values of the organization each and every day. Enter: The rise of real time employee recognition systems.

The workplace of today is increasingly less top-down. Teams and peers work cohesively towards goals set collaboratively. Everything in our digital world is real time, so why isn’t feedback given every day by our peers? Fact is, you may get a literal high five when you climb Mount Project, but that doesn’t translate to recognition until the dreaded annual performance review. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone on a team, from the CEO to your peers, could give a high five that reinforced company values, motivated better performance and rewarded employees in real time?

Psychologists know performance reviews don’t really improve performance. Why? We’re wired to accept praise and reject criticism, according to a vast amount of science cited by Ray Williams for Psychology Today. Worse, the traditional performance review creates an us versus them mentality which “instills feelings of being dominated.” As teams get flatter, and organizations realize the power of openness and collaboration, this “power and subordination” model is not only antiquated, but detrimental to effective work.

General Electric, a pioneer of the annual performance review, decided to end most of its own annual reviews starting in 2014, substituting “a less regimented system of more frequent feedback via an app” as noted in this Quartz article. While much of what drove GE to shift gears was driven by millennials who are used to getting more feedback more frequently and via mobile, the fact is its just good psychology. We want positive reinforcement when we do good things. Simple, right?

Given the nature of the changing workplace, the changing pace of work and the focus on company core values, we’ve found a few themes that will lead to better reviews. Key factors for a better performance review system include:

  • Make it timely. If someone does something great, there’s no time like the present to recognize that effort. The longer you wait, the less impact it will have. This is where a mobile-first mentality is advantageous, and not just with millennials. We are wired for instant gratification!
  • Make it specific. Telling someone “good job” after 8 months of hard work is virtually useless to morale. Telling someone “wow, you squashed that software bug that was lingering for years!” is directly painting a bright line to the exact thing that helped the team and company move the ball down the field.
  • Make it meaningful. How does the praise align with company values? Educators know the power of meaningful feedback when they write notes in the margin, pointing out specific examples of good work. Imagine how little you would know if all of your grades had only been numbers! Employees are the same: They want their positive reinforcement to be meaningful. How did this help? What new perspective was gleaned from this effort? There’s power in meaning, so make it count.

Related: Become a pro at real time employee recognition with these quick coaching tips:
YouEarnedIt webinar on feedback

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What this means is more real time employee recognition, which leads to happier people and more productivity. YouEarnedIt provides the tools needed to provide truly meaningful real time employee feedback for your company, so schedule a demo today to see how easy it is to make your employees happy!

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Victor Agreda
Victor Agreda