A lot of things have changed in the business world over the last two decades. Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways. Yet, in many other ways, technology has become a burden we could never have imagined. What was supposed to help us connect with one another is driving us farther apart. Simple processes have been made complicated by scripts and code that do the work for us. Now, instead of just working on the process, we need to learn how to fix the code that fixes the process. In some instances, however, technology has made it easier for us to gather and analyze data. What would take days or weeks before, can be done in a matter of seconds or minutes now. For small business owners, this is good news. Learning to use a software platform is much easier than trying to hand-deliver, quantify, and extrapolate data by hand. When it comes to collecting and using feedback in your organization, technology has certainly saved the day. Beyond what is immediately available to you with the click of a button, you can track trends, changes, and issues as they happen, often in real-time, using feedback loops designed specifically with your business in mind. But the question remains, do you still need feedback loops in 2020? Haven’t we created open and honest workplaces and worked hard to improve work culture so that we don’t need to track the concerns of our employees? You might be inclined to agree that we don’t need feedback systems, but the truth is that any business wanting to succeed in the coming years needs information. And the best way to get your hands on that information is from the people who create and deliver your goods: your employees. Not convinced? We love a challenge. Here’s why you really do need to be doing performance reviews in 2020 and beyond. They aren’t going anywhere and if you have already canned them in your small business, consider bringing them back. Here’s why. People need to know where they stand Performance reviews are not just about collecting data for your use. They are also about providing employees with valuable data about themselves. Humans are not meant to spend all day on factory floors and sitting in offices. This lifestyle takes a toll on our wellbeing and we often find that we become agitated and frustrated with our jobs. The pressure to love your job and be a good employee is high. But when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired at work, your work starts to suffer. Performance reviews provide a speed bump for employees to check themselves and be reminded of how they are acting and showing up. Performance reviews, although historically thought to be negative in nature, can become a positive experience when they are meant to help build up employees instead of breaking them down. If you implement performance reviews in your company, you’ll surely be met with some resistance. Again, because our purview of performance reviews are mostly negative. As the business owner or boss, it’s your job to make sure the purpose of these performance reviews is communicated properly, with a focus on positive impact, not negative punishment. And that’s not just business-speak. It’s true. If you continue to tell people that performance reviews are negative, they’ll continue to believe they are negative. If you talk about performance reviews in a positive light, people will eventually change their tune about them. Performance reviews help people know where they stand and how they are helping the company grow. You can talk about the areas that need to be worked on as well, but if you want to create a positive and uplifting work environment, one where your employees feel safe telling you about the issues and concerns they have, the positive focus is the way to go. There needs to be constant communication Performance reviews are typically held just once a year, but if you want to make a real impact on the positivity of your employees and your bottom line, you’ll want to conduct ongoing performance reviews. There are a number of ways to do this, including having employees evaluate themselves through self-evaluation, as well as peer-to-peer evaluations. But you can also create feedback loops that can be used to send and receive instant feedback from your executive team, as well as your employees and management. Keeping the lines of communication open is an important part of any operation, but when you use feedback loops and create constant streams of contact, employees know that their voices are being heard and can adjust in real-time any issues that arise on their ends as well. Performance reviews may continue to have a negative connotation in your workplace, but allowing the constant contact method through feedback loops, you’ll find that the resistance and hesitation about speaking up about issues slowly diminishes. In a world where safety is continuing to climb in importance, having multiple streams of information to and from your employees can only help you improve your operation overall. Feedback loops can be used in a variety of ways. For starters, you can use them between team members to help facilitate the progress of a project. Between managers and employees, feedback loops can ensure that delays and hang-ups are dealt with swiftly and with transparency. Between managers and executives, lines of communication can remain open and everyone can be on the same page. When you run a small business, which can be defined as up to 100 employees, the more contact you have with each of the employees, the better off your business will be. Performance reviews are not indulgent. They are necessary. Track and predict trends in your business One of the biggest reasons you want to start using performance reviews, if you aren’t already, is the fact that you can track and predict changes and trends in your business. Without data, it’s difficult to know what to expect at certain points in your cycle of operation. For instance, by keeping the lines of communication open and using performance reviews, you may come to find that employees are more productive during the summer months and less productive in the winter months. You may come to find that during holidays, employees come back to work feeling energized or defeated. If you can see these things happening in your business over time, you can predict them in new cycles and prepare for them in new and innovative ways. Businesses who don’t engage in performance reviews or feedback systems lose out on the opportunity to strengthen their businesses, their employees’ resolve, and their mark on the world. And if you think we’re being dramatic, think again. Your people make your business work. Without them, their ideas, and their commitment to your business growth, you’d be in trouble. Consider how impactful and empowering it can be for your employees to know their voice is heard. It might take time to see the results of using performance reviews and online feedback systems, but it’s worth the initial investment to be able to track trends and warning signs. Setting the bar with performance reviews A final reason your business needs to be using performance reviews is to help you set the bar for excellence in your organization. Whether you have 5 employees or 50, it’s important to understand the contributions of each employee. This information can help you craft jobs for people that allow them to make the best impact possible, as well as provide you with information to push and coach your employees to do more, be more, and succeed more. When everyone has a low batting average, the team isn’t motivated. But when you have data that shows some employees are outperforming others, it can become a motivator for those who are dragging their butts behind them. Of course, the opposite is also true: such information can stagnate people and make them feel less than confident in themselves. Open lines of communication, strong support systems and peer-to-peer feedback can provide your employees with the ultimate bar to reach for: the one that keeps the company grow successfully. Another thing to consider is whether or not you’ll make that information public. Some companies choose to keep their performance reviews under lock and key, while other companies choose to publicize salaries, reviews, and feedback information for all to see. Depending on the kind of culture you wish to cultivate in your company, either one of these options might be right for you or some combination or in-between options could also fit. The choice is yours. The point, regardless of which information you choose to make public or not, is that you consider how the impact will help motivate your employees. Performance reviews are no longer a secret thing done behind closed doors. Today’s employers are all about sharing the good news with the bad news. Thinking about how you want to empower your employees with information will help you make decisions about what to publish and what to hang onto for internal purposes. Every employee, whether you have one or one hundred, needs to be given some kind of feedback. If you aren’t conducting formal performance reviews, you at least need to be giving your employees some kind of information about how they are doing and what they are bringing out the table. People crave acceptance and validation. Don’t deny your employees the chance to learn more about themselves and how they can help you grow your company.