By Anthony Marchese, April 15, 2020

There are few expressions within the nomenclature of the workplace more effective at generating a physiological reaction than “performance review” or “performance feedback.” For supervisors and individual contributors alike, the mere mention of these words have a tendency to invoke a lot of feelings including: anxiety, frustration, confusion, apathy, resentment, gratitude, or even pleasure. How do you feel about performance feedback? How do your employees feel?

As a lover of all things leadership, my own research and experiences reveal that supervisors (and those whom they manage) have less than favorable things to say about the nature of how feedback is provided, and how often it is provided. They even question the overall usefulness of that which is provided. Interestingly, many non-governmental organizations have eliminated the annual performance review process entirely. Instead, they require managers to have ongoing performance-related conversations throughout the year.

Feedback is intended to recognize and reinforce positive behavior and to act as a catalyst to correct poor performance. The ability to provide feedback that generates the best from employees is not supernaturally imbued upon us during our first day as a supervisor. Most learn of its importance and what works/doesn’t through trial and error. Many supervisors describe struggling with (and even dreading) feedback of any kind, as they may have a firm grasp of the performance management “process” but have little confidence in their skills to translate the process into positive employee performance. In other words, how do I as a supervisor communicate my expectations and provide ongoing support so that my employees have all they need to be successful?

Conversely, employees may complain to colleagues that they don’t know what their supervisor wants or aren’t sure what they think about their work. They feel frustrated after spending a lot of time on a task only to learn that it didn’t meet expectations and must be redone. Like emotional intelligence, providing feedback effectively is a skill that can – and should – be developed. It is possible to reshape how both you and your employees feel about performance conversations. Here are two tips that can help:

Consider your own behavioral style and that of your employee(s) BEFORE providing feedback. Most of us speak one of four distinct languages that are evident by our normal behavior: Results/Outcomes, Analysis/Data, Energy/Creativity, and Relationships/Collaboration. Knowing this information can help you provide feedback that is better understood and useful to your employee.

Make constructive feedback impactful. Don’t assume that your employee knows how to respond to constructive feedback, even if you think your observations and follow-up requests are clear. Changing behavior (or developing new expertise) is a process. Learn how the three F’s (Focus, Feedback, Fix) can make all the difference!

For more information, join me for the webinar Providing Performance Feedback that Makes a Difference on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 from 1-2 pm ET. Click here to register for the webinar.

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