Trisha White profile picture

Trisha White

Human Resources Generalist

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Performance reviews can always be a tricky subject, but we’re trying to change that. We found that our managers weren’t motivated to provide performance reviews because of how long, uncomfortable, and unproductive they can be. Luckily, we discovered a game-changing way to provide feedback: the 5-Word Review.

The 5-Word Review comes from the cofounder of Kayak, Paul English, who wanted a simpler, and more direct way to communicate feedback. English’s method operates as such: provide the reviewee with two or three positive words and two or three challenge words. The manager then delivers their 5-Words in an in-person meeting.

Our managers have expressed how much easier it is to hold a conversation when giving this feedback since it helps the delivery of the information and how it is received. By giving instructions that words have to be decided, this overrides anyone’s tendency to skirt around an awkward topic. Each word then serves as a data point.

We have also enhanced the 5-Word Review by allowing not only managers to review their direct reports, but to have direct reports review their managers and peers to review each other. We keep these reviews anonymous to allow everyone to feel comfortable saying what they need to say. The opportunity to review a manager provides a way to give critical feedback that might otherwise never get brought up. Some of our employees have expressed how much more painless and effective this process is.

We’ve only done one round of these so far, so we’ll circle back with the team and look at the data to determine how productive the 5-Word Review actually is. But what we know for now is that we’ve received a lot of gratitude and good feedback.