What the NFL Taught Me About Performance Reviews
The idea of an annual performance review frightens me like it does many, but most likely for different reasons. I am most afraid of the valuable time for improvement lost if critical feedback is withheld until the end of the year. It is also frightening that we work roughly 2,000 hours a year and only schedule an hour for feedback with our supervisor! Maybe some background into my previous career will add some clarity. As a professional athlete in the NFL, the routine was simple. Perform, get critical feedback during the game (complete with colorful language!), then watch film and get critical feedback for 2 more hours. As a defensive lineman, the post-game feedback consisted of watching each play step by step, focusing on hand/foot placement, pad level, and hustle. If my first step off the ball on Tuesday was 9 inches instead of 6 inches, that behavior had to be fixed before Wednesday. There was no waiting until next week, much less December.
To the relief of most of you, I am not suggesting a weekly 5 hour feedback session with your supervisor! But I think the athletes and coaches are on to something: in order to grow and improve, you must consistently obtain feedback on your performance and identify the necessary behavioral changes needed to reach your goals.
In our company we borrow the military term After Action Review (AAR) and make sure to hold a brief feedback session after most internal meetings or customer interactions. These quick feedback sessions usually consist of two questions: What did we do well? What could we have done better?
It is vital as an athlete or a leader to obtain feedback and strive for growth on a consistent basis. Find time to ask your teammates and supervisors one thing you could be doing better to add more value to your organization. Time is the resource you can never get back, so don’t waste it!