Millennials care about their growth and development. They want to know how they can improve their performance and the performance of their team. End-of-year performance reviews are often not sufficient or timely enough to facilitate employee growth. Live, candid feedback, similar to the in-game adjustments athletes give each other, is most useful when helping someone to adapt, adjust and grow.

Instead of looking at this process as one in which a manager rates his or her employee, let’s change the conversation to one where the manager coaches the employee by sharing expertise, giving actionable insights and debriefing on situations. This type of relationship promotes constant learning that will help companies and teams adapt more quickly to changing business needs.

When I think of feedback, my eyes naturally begin to roll, thinking of the annual performance review, the inefficiency of it and the lack of development that comes from it. Then, I look at sports teams for comparison. For instance, after each play in a football game, the quarterback huddles with his team to discuss the next play. In the huddle, he receives the play from his coaches and input from his teammates and then gives them actions to take. They break the huddle and set up for the play while the quarterback looks at the defense and shouts changes to the rest of the team.

At no point does he stop and think about how to politely give feedback. He doesn’t wait to send a well-crafted email or, worse, wait six to 12 months to tell someone what didn’t work on the third down with two minutes left in the game. That’d be pointless. So, why do we wait 12 months before giving feedback to our teams?

When you have feedback to give a team member, whether it’s positive or negative, give it live, and make sure it’s actionable. Don’t wait weeks or months for a performance review; share the feedback as an opportunity for development or understanding.

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips for giving live feedback:

  • Give it in person, over the phone or via video chat. Do not give feedback via text, instant messenger or email; too much can be misinterpreted from these mediums.
  • Be specific; share what actions worked or didn’t work.
  • Avoid using absolutes like “always” and “never.” They add a level of judgment to the situation that likely isn’t true and often leads to defensiveness.
  • Be timely; deliver the feedback within one to three days of the incident.
  • Use this simple model. Ask the employee what they thought went well, and share what you thought went well. Then, ask them to share what they thought they could improve on, and share one thing on which you think they could improve.
  • Share when it’s good and bad – you’re giving them a gift. If they don’t hear the feedback, how can they grow, make a change or know to continue doing the action you’re applauding?

Give feedback live, and be specific and timely so the person can learn from the experience and grow. Over time, this type of feedback becomes infectious; the more you do it, the more others will adopt your model of open, honest and live feedback. The result is the creation of a learning culture where people give and receive feedback in the moment, when they need it to support their growth and the company’s success.

Just take one look at the success of Super Bowl quarterbacks; it’s fair to say that theirs is a safe model to follow.