With a worker’s job tenure now falling somewhere between 3 and 5 years on average, the annual review seems fairly outmoded as a primary form of feedback. A once-a-year sit down is just too infrequent for our fast-paced work lives. What’s more, traditional reviews also overlook the powerful role that input from co-workers, and not just management, can play.
One of the best practices that we’ve identified in our research at Behance – and one that we swear by ourselves – is that of the “revolving review.” Conducted every 3-4 months, revolving reviews, in a sense, harness the wisdom of the crowd: everyone reviews everyone based on three simple criteria: what they should start doing, what they should stop doing, and what they should continue doing.
Management then reviews these start/stop/continue assessments, and if certain things come up repeatedly – such as “I’m finding Brian’s ongoing banter distracting” or “Claire is micro-managing every element of the project and it’s slowing us down” – then you sit down with individual employees to discuss the issues that seem to be drawing collective attention.
This approach turns the traditional review on its head in three useful ways:
1. It engages the group in the review process rather than just limiting it to a one-on-one, boss-vs-employee dynamic.
2. It can work both ways: not only does management review employees, but employees review management.
3. Best of all, it’s easy! You can conduct a revolving review with little preparation because the work of doing the review is distributed across all employees.
The upside is that such reviews also make genuine room for positive feedback (“continue”) and recommendations for improvement (“start”), as well as reform (“stop”).
Reviews shouldn’t hold surprises. By conducting them more frequently and engaging our peers, we can ensure that problems are nipped in the bud before they become entrenched, that criticism is balanced with due recognition, and that our working groups stay healthy and in tune.
***The Behance team researches productivity and leadership in the creative world. These entries are adapted and edited by Jocelyn K. Glei from the Behance team's past articles and research. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.