10 Ways To Stay In Touch With Your Growing Team About Their Performance

Keeping up with your employees on an individual level makes for good leadership. As you hire more and more people to your team, it can be difficult to maintain that one-on-one time with each employee. However, doing so is crucial to ensuring everyone is on the same page and performing their best.

To help you, we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share some creative and effective ways to give regular performance feedback to your key team members. Follow their advice to stay connected to your team, even as your company grows.

1. Schedule Regular Professional Development Chats

We leverage professional development (PD) chats in which each supervisor/manager has proactive conversations with each of their direct reports. The chats focus on employees’ goals and serve to give feedback on progress. Unlike a typical performance review, PD chats give the employee the opportunity to speak freely about their strengths and weaknesses to uncover where the leadership team can help, reinforce and support—transparency is key. PD chats help ensure that employees see their role as an opportunity for professional growth while also making them feel heard and empowered to shine. The more you honor the talents and passion of individual employees, the more you ensure your company adds value to their long-term plans and goals, giving them a path to fulfillment and growth. – Cooper Harris, Klickly

2. Have (Virtual) Coffee With One Team Member Per Week

I block off an hour every Monday to have coffee with a team member. We rotate through employees so that every week someone gets to meet with me one-on-one. This is an off-site coffee date with the purpose being to get to know each other as humans in addition to giving them feedback on their work, getting feedback on what they think is going right with the agency and what I can improve on as a leader. – Katie Wagner, KWSM: a digital marketing agency

3. Don’t Wait For A Formal Review To Discuss Issues

Be direct and in the moment. I spend over half of my day directly working with or observing our team members—from our fulfillment team to our print department and our sales team. As I move about the building, I constantly see things that I either have questions about or would want to see done differently. I used to keep that to myself, waiting for a formal “review” to discuss and fix it. I’m now working on saying and addressing things in the moment. If I don’t love how an email was framed, I let my team member know. If I think a box isn’t taped up the way it should be, I stop and fix it alongside the team member. Everyone wins—things get addressed more quickly and team members have a chance to grow, improve and thrive before they hit review season. – Saloni Doshi, Eco Enclose, LLC

4. Add Employees To Company Committees

Over the years we’ve developed a few effective methods to give employees feedback. One is to add employees to committees where they are provided with feedback from their peers, not just from management. Another creative way we give feedback to employees is through social media. For example, we’ll post a positive customer survey online and tag the employee for public recognition. We thank our employees online with a shout out to let them know publically how appreciative we are. This lets the employee know what we as a company put a value on and appreciate. This is extremely effective because not only does it involve communicating with the employee, it also reinforces to our clients and customers what we value as a company and most importantly, how much we value our biggest asset—our employees! – Bill Mulholland, ARC Relocation

5. Build The Right Leadership Team

One-on-one time inevitably gets delegated to managers and team leaders. Your No. 1 priority is appointing the right staff to leadership positions—otherwise, top talent will eventually leave. Organize group sessions whenever possible, such as company talks, workshops or lunch events together. Give your team the opportunity to still interact with you whenever possible. In case of a more sensitive matter, still prioritize your team members and attend the feedback session with their lead. Show them you still care and are on top of everything, and ensure that problems or concerns get escalated back to you. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

6. Tailor Reviews And Frequency Based On The Individual Employee

I was trained early in my career to self-assess my own performance, and that no news was good news when it came to hearing from my superiors. Do your job or else you’ll hear from them. Newer hires, however, want more feedback and accolades. Although I’ve always tried to reach out to everyone in my organization for 360-degree performance reviews on the same set schedule, when growth reaches a level where that model is no longer sustainable, I tailor my review sessions and their periodicity based on the employee rather than the reviewer. Everyone has different needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We have review sessions ranging all the way from weekly check-in calls for those who need it most down to once a year at compensation time. – James Behmke, Behmke Ventures LLC

7. Cater To Team Members’ Motivations And Communication Styles

There isn’t one way to give feedback that inspires your team to achieve a common goal. There are generalized steps like having a clear vision your team can rally around, setting performance standards, giving constructive criticism and more, but execution tends to be the messy-middle that one will have to master themselves. It takes time and patience. Anyone who has successfully managed a team would notice that every team member is different and so are their motivations and communication styles. It’ll only get complex as the team grows and although you can automate some leadership processes, the bulk work will be one-on-one and manual. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Use Email To Express Gratitude

Leverage the power of email. While it’s nice to sit down and have a meeting dedicated to each employee regularly, that simply isn’t realistic. I like to send emails of gratitude and feedback whenever I witness or hear about an employee doing something outstanding. We can so easily get distracted by results, meeting metrics and goals. When an employee opens their computer to find a piece of constructive feedback or positive praise, it will bring them back to why they are there working for you in the first place. File these emails away and review them prior to a formal performance review, they can act as a reminder to you for what each employee has done over the year and help you have a more powerful conversation. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

9. Empower Team Members To Recognize Each Other

People need feedback and recognition around the work they’re doing. The quality, quantity and recency of this feedback are also important. At some point in the growth of your organization, you will need to democratize some aspects of feedback in order to be effective. Within our organization, we’ve implemented a tool called Bonus.ly and I can honestly say it is one of the best investments we’ve ever made. Each team member gets points at the beginning of the month and they can recognize their fellow team members for how they’ve helped. These points add up and they can use the points to buy things from a catalog or donate to causes. At the end of the day, when we do a good job and we get positive recognition for that, we want to do that again. – Kevin Getch, Webfor

10. Create A Liminal Workspace Without Hierarchy Or Judgment

It is imperative that my whole team feels like they have access to me in a space that is free of judgment or hierarchy. This can be considered a liminal workspace. What is effective about creating a liminal workspace time is that members and I feel like we can be vulnerable and then authentic communication can start. When you are authentically communicating in a group, members can express their needs one-on-one. We make it happen after the fact or right there. The routine meeting for feedback can be a big waste of time if you are growing because sometimes you don’t need a meeting when an email would do. Liminal group meetings without hierarchy are essential. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

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