The signs are all there: your employees look anxious, they’re climbing over each other to take credit for team successes and they get defensive every time you offer feedback.

Welcome to performance review season.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. People hate performance reviews because, all too often, it’s the only time they get feedback. They’re totally in the dark about management’s opinion of their work and by extension, their future with the organization. It’s not a fun position to be in.

Making performance reviews part of every day

Your employees will be happier—and you’ll get better performances from them—if they’re kept up to date with their progress. Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting more formal sit-downs. Instead, get in the habit of providing ongoing feedback through informal, unwritten sessions.

I’ve made it a habit to get together with my direct reports a few times each month to create a pressure-free time to discuss where they’re at with their professional development. These meetings aren’t about me, or my company’s needs, rather, they’re an opportunity to get to know my employees and to lend them my ears and my expertise 

Deal with problems before they start

Having ongoing feedback also provides you with an opportunity to head off small issues before they become full-blown problems. Many employees benefit immensely from a little extra guidance or coaching.

Of course, larger companies are never going to get away from formal reviews entirely—the legal system requires that an employee’s progress be documented. But if an employee is kept up to date with their performance, that performance review need not be a nasty surprise.