Many business leaders view the performance review as a necessary evil. So, they fill the time with comments on projects that ended months ago. They rush to end each meeting, assuming employees hate the situation too. Afterall, why would anyone want to sit and hear about mistakes they made during the year?
But the truth is, employees love regular performance reviews. In fact, a 2017 Officevibe survey of 50,000 employees from around the world found that 96 percent of respondents think frequent feedback is a good thing. Eighty-three percent don’t even care if the feedback is positive or negative.
Instead of viewing the performance review as a waste of time, look at it from a new perspective — an HR perspective.
HR professionals understand a performance review isn’t about pointing out employees’ mistakes. It’s a chance to create a discussion that will aid in the employee’s development.
To get a handle on some of the different approaches to giving feedback that are rocking the workplace, we reached out to three HR experts, here’s what they had to say:
Start with a plan
While in-the-moment feedback is important, leaders should never give feedback that isn’t thoroughly thought out. Spouting off comments without consideration will, inevitably, lead to misunderstandings or even hurt feelings.
“Take the time to plan,” said Dan McCarthy, author and creator of the Great Leadership blog. “Start with examining your intentions and what you hope to achieve. Before you just spontaneously give your employee the ‘gift’ of feedback, do some honest self-reflection.”
McCarthy advises taking time to think about the purpose of the feedback. If the comment is overly harsh or about a small, irrelevant pet peeve, it can trigger an employee’s defense system. This will make them less receptive to the feedback and, possibly, future feedback as well.
When the feedback is genuinely supportive, however, it’s guaranteed to be more effective.
“If the employee perceives that you are giving them tough feedback but with the intention of helping them, they’ll be more likely to listen and take corrective action,” said McCarthy.
Focus on the future
It’s impossible to change something that’s already happened. But this is exactly what many leaders attempt to do during a performance review. They spend all their time talking about past mistakes, when they should be encouraging ongoing improvements.
“Stop saying, ‘Here’s what you did wrong…,’” said Jason Lauritsen, leadership speaker and founder of JasonLauritsen.com. “Instead, try coaching for future performance by saying, ‘Next time, here are a few things you might want to consider trying.’”
This approach gives the employee actionable tips. They don’t have to relive their failures but can instead focus on changes and improvements. It also creates the opportunity for a conversation — not a scolding — to take place.
“Offering instructive coaching on future performance decreases defensiveness because it is positive and collaborative with the individual,” said Lauritsen.
Maintain a balance
Remember, feedback can be positive as well as corrective. During a performance review, it’s important to also tell employees everything they’re doing great.
“Be generous with your praise and support and very careful and sparing with feedback,” said Josh Bersin, founder and principal of Bersin by Deloitte.
He goes on to say that by giving sincere praise when it’s deserved, leaders build trust with their employees. By regularly hearing appreciation for their hard work, employees are less taken aback by the negative.
“If you are genuine all the time, and feel comfortable giving people positive feedback, then when it’s time for constructive feedback, it will be easier and much more acceptable by others,” said Bersin. “Remember: people always take feedback personally, so a tiny bit goes a very long way.”
A performance review doesn’t have to be awkward and should never be a waste of time. By approaching feedback thoughtfully and in the way they would expect to receive it, leaders can be more effective with helping employees truly develop their potential.
What are some other tips for delivering feedback? Share in the comments below!
Thuy and Milo Sindell, principals in Skyline Group International, Inc. The Sindells are principals in Skyline Group International, Inc., Skyline Group is the leading provider of scalable leadership solutions. Skyline is revolutionizing the leadership development industry with the C4X coaching platform. C4X is the only coaching solution that gives you the ability to develop all leaders consistently and systematically from onboarding to executive development. C4X combines a flexible and mobile technology platform (integrated assessment, personalized content, metrics, and coach management system) with the impact and connection of 1:1 coaching. Learn more at www.SkylineG.com and www.C4X.com.