5-Word Performance Reviews Facilitate Fast Feedback

young bossPerformance reviews can often be long and drawn out, more pomp and circumstance than actual useful feedback. Paul English, the co-founder of Kayak.com, has an innovative approach to performance reviews: he limits them to just 5 words.

When asked how he came up with the 5-word performance review, English told Fast Company, "Five words was a trick I came up with to make myself be blunt." There is a beauty to bluntness, especially when it comes to performance reviews. It forces us to focus not on sugarcoating, but on the most essential workplace practices that an employee can improve. Instead of taking an indirect approach to criticism, the 5-word approach enables direct feedback with real-time results.

The obvious side effect of this straightforward performance review technique is that it creates a potential for negative reaction. English says, "I always do two or three positives and two or three negatives." By mixing praise with criticism, English conveys his appreciation of the employee's efforts. English uses words like "attentive" and "untrusting" when he offers his 5-word performance reviews.

The benefits of performance reports are obvious, but when they are long and drawn-out, they lose their importance. Although you might not be comfortable dropping these reports down to 5 words at first, practicing forthright honesty with employees is the best way to garner results and in turn raise their engagement and productivity.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.