Many companies are well beyond assuming an employee’s contributions to an organization can be fully understood from an annual performance review alone. To better assess and improve employee performance, conversations much happen much more frequently. For employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses – and for their managers to help them develop – feedback must be gathered continuously and in a variety of ways throughout the year. This could be via be things like peer-to-peer or anonymous feedback and recognition, project retrospectives, quarterly check-ins or even, yes, an annual review.
While savvy organizations use their employees’ collective brain power to understand the value of individuals, even smarter ones cast a wider net and ask external stakeholders to join the conversation as well. How do your partners, vendors and customers feel about your employees?
Here’s three scenarios where external feedback can provide insight that cannot be gained from within your organization.
In a competitive sales situation.
Whether your customers are in-store shoppers or enterprise software buyers, there are a finite number of them who have relationships with your sales team.. When employees are in a situation where they compete head-to-head against each other, it can be beneficial to look beyond the manager’s or co-workers’ opinions.
When an employee only interfaces with customers.
For employees who interact with clients solo (think call center representatives or those who install in-home systems of some sort, for example), customers themselves are better (and sometimes only ) firsthand assessors of performance.
If there’s a gap between current and historical perception.
If an employee traditionally received positive feedback and it changes drastically, or vice versa, it could be an opportunity to compare that to the external perception of the employee. Any number of internal factors could skew an individual’s assessment.
The bottom line is that while managers and co-workers have valuable opinions to contribute, those people that your employees touch while representing your company – customers, partners, vendors, etc. – should have an easy way to provide feedback as well. (One Kazoo customer, Echo Global Logistics, has even used external recognitions to help improve its internal training programs – read more about it here.) Whether it’s incorporated into an email signature line or a pop-up survey after making a purchase in a store, companies should never pass up an opportunity to collect external feedback and recognition.