Here’s What Better Than an Annual Review

It's a toss-up whether waiting for your yearly review is worse than actually sitting through it. Ideally, nothing your manager tells you in these evaluations should be a surprise. Yet even if the news is good, sometimes the experience just leaves you wanting. After all that stress, that was it?

If this is your reaction, you're on to something, according to researchers. Annual, biannual, and quarterly reviews are all standard practice in most offices, but for many employees, they're actually not enough. A study conducted by the University of Leicester and California State University, Fullerton, found that workers want much more feedback than they're getting.

"[A]ppraisal is unlikely to motivate employees, without frequent feedback throughout the review cycle and their being given meaningful performance standards," said CSU co-author Shaun Pichler in a press release. Short version: Workers need something from their employers just as much as the office needs its employees to get work done. But even beyond providing formalized structure for improving performance, the researchers found that employees are more likely to actually act on feedback if they hear it more frequently and informally.

If you're a manager, consider picking out one or two pieces of concrete feedback for each direct report per week, and share it either verbally or in writing. It can be straight praise or more of a feedback sandwich, but keep your evaluations concrete and as specific as possible. Not only does it assure your team that you're paying attention to them, it also shows that you've got their backs. By the time the next formal review rolls around, you'll all hopefully be on the same page without too many big adjustments.