How to Build a Culture of Open Communication and Constant Improvement

Emily Pastina

Published: Apr 19, 2024

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When I say the words "performance review", what comes to mind?

Do you think about sitting across from your manager, anxiously awaiting feedback that could determine your career trajectory? Or maybe you've had to give difficult feedback and worried about how to deliver constructive criticism that didn't demotivate your team. 

But as business owners, it's time for us to start seeing these quarterly performance reviews in a new light—not as something to stress over, but as a valuable opportunity for growth, celebration, and alignment on shared goals.

Let's break down the reasons why performance reviews are more beneficial than you might think.

Growing with quarterly wins

Quarterly performance reviews are much more than just a report card on someone’s work. They're a structured chance to pause, reflect, and plan for the future. 

For a business to succeed in the long run, it's important for everyone to know what's expected of them and to be held accountable. Even if you only have 1 or 2 employees, quarterly performance reviews are incredibly beneficial. Especially if you want to attract and retain top talent and grow your business. 

These reviews have become a key practice for companies looking to stay ahead—and for good reason. They serve as a strategic tool to help businesses make sure everyone is working towards the same goals, encourage a culture of continuous improvement, and ensure that each team member knows how they fit into the bigger picture.

Quarterly reviews stand out because they strike the perfect balance between frequency and impact. They happen often enough to catch issues early but are spaced out enough to allow for meaningful progress between check-ins. This schedule fosters a rhythm of checking in and improving that can transform how well employees and the entire company perform.

The #1 question on your team’s mind

Here at Business Made Simple, we recommend 5 key meetings to help you run your small business. They each have a different purpose and goal. For example, in your weekly personal priority speed checks, you are helping each team member know what their priorities are and what role they play in the overall story of the business.

At the heart of quarterly performance reviews is the opportunity to provide immediate, actionable feedback. In your reviews, you are going to answer a very specific question burning in the minds of each team member: "How am I doing?"

This regular check-in helps clear up any confusion about expectations and shows employees how they can grow and improve. 

By clearly articulating how an employee's contributions align with the company's objectives, leaders can motivate their teams and clarify the path forward. It's a straightforward way to make sure everyone knows where they stand and what they need to work on. These meetings may only last 30 minutes or so, but they are much more important and serious than personal priority speed checks.

Building a culture of accountability

One of the main goals of these reviews is to create an environment where everyone knows what they're supposed to do and how well they're doing it. When team members understand what’s expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility. 

It’s important to set specific, time-bound, measurable goals. That way it's easier to see who is meeting their targets and who might need a little extra help. This transparency not only helps each employee perform better, but it also helps the entire team stay focused and work together towards the company's shared goals.

But these meetings aren't just about pointing out what needs improvement. They're also a time to celebrate what's going well! Recognizing achievements can boost morale and motivate your team members to keep up the good work. At the same time, constructive feedback shows employees how they can be even more valuable to the company, providing a clear path for growth. When there’s a healthy balance of both, the meeting stays positive, encouraging, and collaborative. 

Supporting career growth

Regular feedback is crucial for professional growth. These reviews give employees a clear sense of their strengths and where they can improve, making it easier for them to develop their skills. This focus on growth is good for the employee because it makes them more skilled and valuable, and it's also good for the company because it builds a stronger, more skilled team.

When performance reviews influence compensation, businesses can create a fair system that rewards hard work and success. It also provides a transparent framework for how employees can move up in the company and earn more based on their performance. 

This motivates employees to do their best and ensures that pay increases are based on how much value someone brings to the team. It's a win-win: employees are motivated to improve, and the company benefits from their enhanced performance.

Tips for making performance reviews work

To make quarterly reviews work, it's important to plan them carefully.  Effective reviews require clear goals, adequate support, and a culture that values feedback. 

It’s no surprise that leaders play a crucial role in this process. Training them to handle these discussions with care and a focus on development can minimize tension and make these meetings positive and productive.

Remember, different people handle criticism and feedback in different ways. Some people enjoy it because they crave feedback, and some people bristle at any indication they aren't perfect. It's important then that department leaders know how to interact with each of their team members.

Choosing to do quarterly performance reviews is a strategic move that can bring big benefits to both employees and the company. But it's important to approach these reviews thoughtfully. They should be part of a larger effort to create a culture where continuous improvement, responsibility, and growth are valued.

Reframing the review

As you grow and professionalize your operation, the quarterly performance reviews will give you, your department leaders, and every team member the sense of fairness, belonging, and opportunity that strong and capable professionals are looking for.

These sessions are crucial for success, offering consistent feedback, fostering accountability, and supporting professional development. When you celebrate wins and reward performance, these reviews can motivate your team and drive your business forward. 

Want a detailed roadmap for conducting quarterly performance reviews? Download Business Made Simple's free Meeting Template Worksheets below. You’ll learn how to implement a repeatable system to replace organized chaos with a routine set of meetings: