1 in 4 employees believe their assessments will not help improve their work performance.
The dread feedback session…or is it?
No one enjoys hearing where they are missing the mark in life but feedback is a necessary evil when learning to grow and develop yourself beyond your comfort zone – especially individuals committed to growing their career.
As an L&D professional and Coach, my role is steeped in both giving and receiving feedback on a daily basis. Too often feedback is mismanaged, misaligned or misused and as a result the term alone can drive both fear and resignation within an employee’s psyche.
Research by a group of psychologists from Kansas State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Texas A&M University looked into how high performers responded to negative/critical feedback when receiving a performance review and they found that this group was less motivated upon hearing the news. Although this may not sound earth shattering, it did emphasize why so much of the effort and energy spent on the performance review process is often wasted.
Having been on the receiving end of the positive and negative, I can openly say that although it can sting at first, once you remove your personal feelings and ego out of the picture – what you are left with is…possibility and opportunity to expand yourself in areas you may not thought were once possible.
That is of course if the feedback is delivered in a concise, productive and professional manner – leaving the other person engaged, empowered and dare I say excited.
Here are 6 common reasons employees dislike receiving feedback from their manager:
- You are not prepared.
You can’t hide a lack of preparation so spare yourself the embarrassment and awkward silence and in advance of the discussion, check within your HR to see if there’s a certain process you should follow for the meeting, or if there are forms you’re required to complete. Hopefully you have been taking copious notes highlighting the wins and losses throughout the year so that you aren’t relying on memory and took the time to think about your employee’s recent achievements and whether he or she met expectations.
- You talk at them and not to them.
You shouldn’t be the only one talking during a performance appraisal. In fact, if you should set the stage and allow them to speak. Your job is to engage in a healthy 2-way dialogue ensuring you are listening, taking notes and responding when necessary. Make sure workers know what to expect from the meeting so they can prepare in advance by sending them an agenda for the conversation. Engage early on and ask your people to bring a list of accomplishments, obstacles and future goals to the meeting, as this will encourage a two-way conversation.
- You’re not seeing the full picture.
What you personally see and hear from one individual may not tell the full story. Be proactive prior to your meeting and request feedback from this individuals peer groups and colleagues who regularly collaborate with the employee for a more well-rounded balanced assessment. Separating facts from fiction will support a healthier exchange.
- You focus only on the negative.
Comments made during evaluations aren’t always all positive, but they are necessary to both hear and take action on. Make sure your goal is to provide specific, constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement rather than just criticizing the individual. I realize this is a larger debate around focusing on strengths vs. weaknesses, however in the end – any strength overused will become a weakness so get some distance and keep your perspective well rounded.
- You focus only on the past.
Assessing past performance is only half the battle and a small part of the lager task at hand. The review is also a time to discuss goals and what an employee needs to be successful (and happy) in the future months. The past should be a jump off point in setting the stage for how to best move forward. Remember, the past cannot be changed, erased or forgotten; it can only be accepted.
- You only care when told to.
Regularly following up with employees to provide real time feedback, coaching and direction is critical for the overall success of your employees. Waiting until the quarter, half or end of the year robs your people from learning and growing in the present. Expecting an individual to wait for any extended period of time to receive word on how they are doing is a recipe for resignation, cynicism and potential absenteeism. This is an easy fix, look at providing feedback as a daily opportunity and occurrence versus an “event” which although may still take place doesn’t have to wait due to process but rather acted upon due to principle.
There is no one solution or framework fits all and this mentality has proven itself time and again to fail for individuals thinking they can plug and play. According to Dick Grote, author of the HBR book How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals, remember to be clear at the beginning of the year how you’ll evaluate your employees with individual performance planning sessions and give your employees a copy of their appraisal before the meeting so they may have their initial emotional response in private and come prepared.
No matter what your intention, if your approach isn’t aligned from an end to end experience and culture specific to your people – you will most likely fall flat leaving the other individual feeling frustrated and disempowered. If you are fortunate enough to deliver feedback to another person, take a moment to ensure you are prepared and ready to add value.
The floor is yours:
What’s your tip for delivering a productive feedback session?
Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.
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