Getting Valuable Performance Feedback

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So here are three simple questions to ask your boss that can help you get valuable performance feedback and advance yourself and your career:


1) What am I doing that you want me to keep doing?


2) What am I doing that you want to me quit doing?


3) What am I not doing that you’d like me to start doing? 


There you have it in a nutshell–you can partner with your boss to improve yourself and get ahead. 


Just three easy questions gets you a lot of good information. 

 

The hardest part is getting up the nerve to ask and then being willing to really listen to what’s said.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How To Give Employee Feedback

Poop Free Zone
Finally some realism about how to conduct employee evaluations…



The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past employees could expect that “we would bring them in and beat them down a bit.”



But now, managers are expected to “scrap the negative feedback” and “extol staffers strengths” (accentuate the positives).



Companies are realizing that negative feedback does “more harm than good.”



– You tick off the employee and ruin any positive relationship and trust. 

– The employee feels unappreciated, hurt, and in jeopardy. 

– Employees project their hurt feelings and accuse you of being the problem. 

– The deteriorating state makes them fear that you are working against them and they become unmotivated to try to do better.

– Instead, they spend their time working against you (and the company), and looking for another job. 



There is an old saying that you don’t sh*t where you eat, and so it is with employee performance evaluations.



In over 25 years, I have never seen negative employees reviews produce positive results!



However, I have seen that sincerely praising everyones’ best efforts, leveraging their strengths, and being thankful for what each person contributes makes a high performing team where people are loyal, want to work, and contribute their best. 



Everyone has weaknesses and problems, and frankly most people when they are being honest with themselves, know what their issues are. Pointing their face in it, doesn’t help. (Have you ever told a fat person that they need to lose a few pounds?)



One idea that I did like from the Journal is called “feedforward,” where you ask “employees to suggest ideas for their own improvement for the future.”



This way each person can be introspective and growth as they mature and are ready, but not under threat, rather with support and encouragement. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Backlash Against Performance Reviews

The Backlash Against Performance Reviews

So there is big backlash against employee performance reviews.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek declares the annual performance review to be “worthless.”

The performance review ritual is traced back to the 1930’s with Harvard Business School Professor, Elton Mayo, who found that productivity and satisfaction of workers improved when they were measured and paid attention to. This was referred to as the Hawthorne Effect because the study was conducted at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric outside Chicago.

Later in the 1950’s, the Performance Rating Act institutionalized mandated performance reviews for federal workers,

But studies in the last 2 decades have found employees (42%) dissatisfied with the process and even HR managers (58%) disliking the system.

Clinical Psychologist, Aubrey Daniels, call the process “sadistic!”

The annual reviews are disliked for many reasons including the process being:

1) Arbitrary, subjective, and personality-driven rather than objective, meaningful, and performance-based.

2) Feedback that is too little and too late, instead of real-time when good or bad performance behavior occurs.

3) A power tool that managers use in a “culture of domination” as opposed to something that really helps employees improve.

4) Something used to punish people and build a case against employees to “get rid of you” rather than to reward and recognize them.

At the same time, this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft and other companies are getting rid of forced employee rankings.

The ranking system was developed by General Electric in the 1980’s under Jack Welch and has been referred to as “”Stack Rankings,” “Forced Rankings” and “Rank and Yank.”

Under this system, employees are ranked on a scale–with a certain percentage of employees (at GE 10% and Microsoft 5%, for example) ranked in the lowest level.

The lowest ranked employees then are either let go or marginalized as underperformers getting no bonuses, equity awards, or promotions.

“At least 30% of Fortune 500 companies continue to rank employees along a curve.”

Microsoft is dumping the annual quantitative ranking and replacing it with more frequent qualitative evaluations.

UCLA Professor, Samuel Colbert, says this is long overdue for a yanking at companies and managers’ jobs is “not to evaluate,” but rather “to make everyone a five.”

While this certainly sounds very nice and kumbaya-ish, it also seems to reflect the poor job that managers have done in appraising employees fairly and working with them to give them a genuine chance to learn and improve, before pulling the rating/ranking trigger that can kill employees career prospects.

A bad evaluation not only marginalizes an employee at their current position, but it limits their ability to find something else.

Perhaps, this is where the qualitative aspect really comes into play in terms of having frank, but honest discussions with employees on what they are doing well and where they can do better, and how they can get the training and experience they need.

It’s really when an employee just doesn’t want to improve, pull their weight, and is undermining the mission and the team that performance action needs to be taken.

I don’t think we can ever do without performance reviews, but we can certainly do them better in terms of providing constructive feedback rather than destructive criticism and using this to drive bona-fide continuous improvement as opposed to employee derision.

This is possible where there are participants willing to listen to a fair critique and work together on getting to the next level professionally and for the good of the organization. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Mediocre2010)