The phrase “can I give you some feedback?” can instil dread in many a heart! The next thought can often be “oh no, they’re going to make me look bad here”.
A report for DDI by Harris Interactive found that employees would rather suffer a bad hangover, do housework or see their credit card bill arrive than face the prospect of sitting through a performance review with their boss. Additionally, employees react negatively to criticism more than half the time and, unsurprisingly perhaps, react positively to criticism just once out of 13 times.
Self-esteem can often be damaged when mistakes happen – people will be extremely tough on themselves (without little encouragement from us) and then have to hear negative feedback from their leader in a way that accentuates the issues and provides little to help them going forward.
However, if you don’t give feedback, or only rarely (eg. only during Annual Performance Reviews), there’s very little encouragement to provide exceptional performance, as the assumption could be that all is fine. No news is good news!
Studies have shown though that people who received regular praise and recognition increase their personal productivity, improved team cooperation and were more likely to stay in the company.
So how do you make sure that the feedback you provide is not dreaded, and so is effective, recognising them for a job well done and helping them understand and learn the new skills to progress going forward?
Hiding negative feedback between positives can be spotted a mile off, not helped by our natural cognitive practice to give a higher weighting to negativity than positivity. What can work better is when the feedback provider genuinely wants to help, by believing in and listening to people, leading through exploring thoughts and ideas.
This can transform the performance of employees by asking questions that can encourage them to discover their own strengths as well as solve their own problems. This not only provides recognition, but motivates people to take responsibility, learn from mistakes and develop new skills.
Below are suggestions for questions as part of a feedback discussion or performance review meeting:
- What did you do well, and what have you learnt about yourself?
- How could you do more of this?
- What impact has this had on the project/team?
- What were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
- Where would you like to do things differently next time?
There will always be times when poor performance needs a formal conversation, which is timely and fact-based. However, for the rest of the time, we can reduce the negativity around giving feedback by encouraging insight and autonomy/choice, and then putting in place an action plan for future progress. And… hopefully even make performance reviews much more enjoyable for all involved!!!
Contact us if you’d like information on how executive coaching can help develop leadership skills.