FASTT feedback: The perfect approach to delivering better workplace feedback
Traditional performance management is dead (or should be). Are you still running the same old tired cycle of one or two reviews a year and not much else? Then you’re setting yourself and your team up to fail. The FASTT feedback framework will help.
Updated 27th August 2023
According to Gallup only 14% of your employees find annual or bi-annual performance reviews improve their performance. And, according to SHRM findings, 90% of HR leaders and 95% of team leaders see them as little more than a box-ticking exercise.
A 2021 survey found that 63% of employers are still reviewing performance on an annual basis. 18% used bi-annual reviews. 8% used quarterly reviews. The number of employers giving feedback more than once a month was 1%.
And Gallup's research shows that annual reviews cost businesses between $2.4 million and $35 million in lost productivity alone.
So, if you’re keeping score that’s:
- Your people don’t usually benefit from annual/occasional reviews
- Your HR team and managers see little long-term benefit
- They cost a whole lot of money
- Most of us still cling to them over anything else
There must be a better way.
Why traditional feedback approaches are broken
To understand what FASTT feedback does differently, we need to look at the existing problems with traditional feedback methods. That way, we can understand why traditional approaches don’t work. And, since there's quite a long a list of issues with traditional performance reviews, here are 5 of the biggest ones:
Traditional performance reviews are infrequent
Long stretches of time between reviews means feedback is often forgotten. That's even true when you're running bi-annual (or quarterly) reviews. And, when things get overlooked, they end up being left to fester and grow.
Traditional performance reviews don’t offer timely feedback
When you identify a need for feedback, the worst thing you can do is wait to give it. Statistical evidence has repeatedly shown that timely feedback is the most effective. Four in ten employees who get little to no feedback are actively disengaged. And that rises to a horrifying 98% for general disengagement.
But 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. And companies investing in regular feedback have roughly 15% less turnover than companies that aren't.
Traditional performance reviews are too focussed on the past
Too often, managers running reviews focus on the past and not looking at the real purpose of reviews. Improvement, learning and development. Reviews should be about moving forward and how to improve in the future, not chastising about past mistakes. We're not saying you shouldn't be firm, or call out mistakes. But if berating your people is your first port of all, you'll probably do more harm than good.
Traditional performance reviews are too subjective and open to bias
Managers are often given quotas to hit in terms of how they rank the performance of their people, with targets set around numerical scores. This doesn’t help people to grow. Nor does recency bias, the phenomena by which we tend to focus more on and have better recollection of recent performance.
Traditional performance reviews are often based on just a single source
Usually in a traditional review it is only the employee’s direct line manager who feeds back on performance. Yet the likelihood of a single person knowing with any degree of accuracy all they need to about that individual employee’s performance and efforts is low. You don't watch 100% of what your employees do. And, if that is how you manage, you're probably doing it wrong.
How to give better feedback at work - use FASTT
The FASTT feedback system is only going to help you if you're willing to change your mindset about how you guide performance. So, how do we improve at giving feedback? Quite simply, we take all the things that don’t work with traditional reviews and build something better.
The exact look and feel of this process will likely be slightly different depending on the nuances of your organisation. But there are four key things to include:
FASTT feedback helps you develop a growth mindset
Organisations with a growth mindset believe the abilities of its people can be developed through guidance and hard work. A growth mindset will almost organically lead to a better way of giving feedback.
Thinking in this way reframes the way we have traditionally viewed feedback and performance. The focus shifts from criticising and chastising to learning and growing. Discussions become less about the past and more about how to improve moving forward.
Use FASTT feedback in continuous performance management
One or two windows a year for employees to both give and receive feedback simply isn't good enough. That's why the FASTT feedback framework works.
Expectations have shifted massively, even more so in the wake of COVID-19). And employees want to hear from their managers and leaders on an ongoing basis.
Tools like employee check-ins allow managers to collect and give feedback on a regular cadence. This regularity means insights and concerns can be shared when they need to be. But it also helps both employees and managers to build positive habits around feedback faster.
The lightweight nature of a well-designed check-in means that your people can share feedback in a timely way. But, just as importantly, in a way that doesn’t take up lots of time.
Set clear targets and expectations
It might sound obvious in a conversation about improving performance. But setting clear targets is vital for your people.
Feedback cycles should focus on ensuring how progress is going towards targets, as well as the appropriateness of any targets set. Take OKRs, for example. Key Results don't automatically benefit your objectives just because you put them in a list together. You need to take stock of all ongoing projects and initiatives to make sure they aren't working against each other.
Share FASTT feedback more widely
Managers can’t be everywhere at once. They certainly can’t take note of how everyone on their team is performing at all times.
That’s why feedback processes need to become more holistic. Tools such as 360° feedback or those aimed at sharing peer-led employee recognition are as important in the new age of feedback as anything else. This doesn't free managers of their obligation to provide feedback and guide their people. But it does mean employees can get a more nuanced picture of their own performance.
Canvassing other colleagues for their views and experiences of an individual’s performance will help shine a light on things managers will inevitably have missed.
FASTT: A simple framework for better workplace feedback
And when it comes to delivering feedback to your people, what’s the best approach to take? It may sound like a simple question. But studies show 82% of managers feel anxious when giving feedback to their team members.
Research shows feedback is less effective at changing behaviours if it’s more than 2 weeks after an event. Feedback should happen weekly for most impact. In fact, employees who get feedback on a weekly basis are up to 2.7 times more engaged.
Feedback needs to be framed positively and focus on improvements. Your instructions need to be tactful and simple to follow.
Feedback must be related to observed behaviours, performance or against a clear and measurable goal. Be sure to include clear expectations, what wasn’t quite right and plans for improving.
Honest and open feedback is the only way to impact future performance. It also helps build trust within your team when everyone knows they’re able to speak freely. Transparency also shows your people they don't have to worry about favouritism. When everyone knows they're being judged solely on professional merit and conduct, they'll be much more motivated.
Feedback needs to flow down and up the chain of command. Great managers request feedback from their people and listen to it.
So, next time you have to deliver some feedback to your people and aren’t 100% confident in your approach, just think FASTT feedback.
Learn how a weekly employee check-in is the foundation of moving to more transparent feedback practices. Download our latest guide: Embracing continuous performance management