I’ve been following Tanveer Naseer’s blog. It’s very good. Tanveer, a fellow Canadian, is a business coach who “works with managers to develop leadership skills and team strategies, while ensuring they remain focused on what makes them passionate about their business.” He’s widely read and published and he’s recognized for having one of the best management and leadership blogs. This week’s post is timely and focused on giving employee feedback. It is the season for 360 evaluations, annual reviews and performance evaluation. And he’s right – it is “often met with disdain and apprehension.” Many of us have been trained to deliver feedback like a “sh*t sandwich” – a criticism wrapped in 2 compliments. The time for that strategy has passed (if there was ever a time for it at all). I believe Tanveer’s recommendations are squarely on point. Key excerpts from his post:
…many organizations are now shifting their focus to an exercise that is often met with disdain and apprehension – the annual performance review. Regardless of whether you’re on the receiving or giving end, most of us tend to view these feedback exercises as unconstructive or a waste of time, in large part because we approach the conversation from the wrong vantage point.
…Three common themes…can serve as valuable rules for leaders to follow to ensure the feedback they offer to their employees helps to improve their productivity…
1. Feedback should give employees a sense of direction and understanding of what matters
“I remember one time for my annual performance review, my boss…wrote in my review that I hadn’t met the expectations for that year. I walked out of his office feeling a mixture of disappointment in myself and frustration with his leadership…In this performance review, all I came out of the meeting with was the understanding that I hadn’t met his objectives, without any clear input on how I get back on course through the work I was currently doing…the focus (should have been)…not treating (the review) as an isolated event, but instead providing…the context of how it would help build a foundation for opportunities I wished to pursue in the future.”
2. Feedback should inform you of your strengths and the value you create
“…feedback is not sought after more because we often associate it with negative comments; that the act of receiving feedback is more about someone telling us what we’re doing wrong than providing us with insights about which of our contributions mattered most to our organization. Of course, the most effective feedback is not to offer employees a shopping list of weaknesses or areas that they need to improve on. Rather, the goal should be to help them understand what unique strengths they bring to the team and consequently, the value they have created for the organization. After all, numerous studies have shown that people are motivated to improve not by being told about what they’re doing wrong, but through an understanding of the value they’re able to provide through their contributions. From that vantage point, it’s not hard to see why they’ll be driven and motivated to achieve this goal again, if not also how leaders can create that internal drive to succeed in their employees as well.
3. Feedback should make you hungry to achieve more
“…(after feedback)…they should wake up the next morning with a renewed sense of hunger to once again push themselves to excel and move forward; to meet the new challenges they’ll face with the same drive and persistence that got them here, ending with my hopes to see each of them again at next year’s awards banquet.”
“(you should leave) feeling valued not just for what you’ve accomplished over the previous year, but because someone was willing to encourage you to look ahead with the knowledge that they could do it again, if not achieve even better results.”
“And perhaps that’s the single greatest message leaders can impart to their employees through their feedback – a sense of belief and trust in their employees’ abilities to not just meet the expectations being put upon them, but to exceed them because they know what they’re capable of when given the support and encouragement they need to succeed.”
“In the end, leaders have to remember that the word feedback starts with the word “feed” which essentially refers to nourishing a need to help ourselves not only thrive but grow and evolve. And when it comes to understanding what needs our workforce has, there’s no better expert than our employees themselves.”
Sources: Thank you Tanveer Naseer: Are You Following These 3 Rules for Effective Feedback? Image – Rob Sanders