In my previous post I tried to provide a piece of advice on how to offer performance feedback in a manner that leads to a constructive attitude from the receiver.
Today’s post is on the constructive attitude one should have when receiving a performance feedback:
- Firstly, remember that you are in the same boat and you need to be sure that you are paddling in the same direction. This is not only about you and your needs. This is about how you can both grow and perform together.
- Secondly, be prepared for this discussion! You should be the first reviewing your performance, whether the manager asked you to do this or not. I suggest you to start by listing your achievements and failures, thus you will be able to identify their causes. Analyzing those causes leads you to a better understanding of what you should stop/start/keep doing in order to improve your results.
- Please note that performance feedback is not only given during the annual performance review. If it is feedback about your work or competencies, it is a performance feedback. You should take it into consideration and act consequently.
- In order for this to be a win-win situation, be sure that you really listen. The performance review is not about criticism.
- Don’t blame others for your poor results. The questions you should ask yourself are:”Given the context, could I’ve done better?” and “Was it under my control to change that context?” If you can answer either of those questions positively than this means you have room for improvement. The manager may accept the fact that the outcomes are not entirely under your control (lack of resources provided by the company, market decrease etc), but only to a limited extent.
- When you challenge one of your manager’s opinions do it tactfully. Bring arguments to support your perspective and be sure you understood his/her arguments, in order to fight them (if the case). Build your case around company’s interest, not your own interest, as the “performance “ part in “performance feedback” refers to how you manage to meet company’s objectives.
As promised in my previous post on Performance Feedback, I’m back with a piece of advice for the sender.
Here are some things that you, the manager (sender), could consider in order to encourage a constructive attitude from the receiver:
- Firstly, be sure that the standards are clearly understood by the receiver. (You should have done that during the previous performance review when you set the requirements). You won’t get anywhere if you don’t refer to the same things.
- The performance feedback should be continuous, specific and able to obtain an active response.
- Continuous feedback – You don’t need to get at the annual performance review in order to provide feedback. Keep in mind that the worst feedback is no feedback.
- Specific – be specific, bring examples and arguments and suggest alternatives. After receiving a feedback that person should know what exactly he/she should start/stop/keep doing (active response).
- Focus your feedback on results and competencies; don’t direct it at the person in front of you. If you fail in doing this, the receiver takes it personally and the natural reaction is to get defensive. (Is useless to mention that words such as “guilt”, “fault” and the general ”I am right, you are wrong.” attitude must be avoided at all costs.)
- Walk the talk – if you promised something, do it. If you weren’t able to do it, take responsibility for that, explain and evaluate the consequences. (e.g.: you promised to budget an assistant for her/him, but the budget was reviewed. You can’t expect him/her to provide the same results as if he/she had that resource).
- Accept the fact that results are not entirely under his/her control (lack of resources provided by the company, market decrease etc). Take the context into consideration when providing feedback. If you do this, you can avoid both coming off as absurd and generating a defensive reaction. The question you should ask yourself is:”Given the context, what could‘ve been done better?”
I found here a funny analogy with performance feedback:
Question: What’s the difference between performance feedback and a root canal?
During performance reviews, I’ve noticed two dominant reactions when receiving negative feedback:
- Constructive – The receiver listens to the sender’s arguments (if the case, also bringing counter arguments) and he/she provides alternative scenarios, in order to ensure a complete understanding of the issue (if I were to do this differently, than the results would be better). To sum up, the focus is on improvement (finding the path from the current situation to the desired one).
- Defensive – the receiver brings excuses for his/her failures, finding external factors to blame without taking any personal responsibility. The focus is now not on what he/she can do better but on what others should do in order for him to provide better results. Basically, you play a round of the blame game.
Premise: feedback, as a communication process involves two parties: the sender and the receiver.
Not only is it in the interest of both parties for the reaction to be a constructive one, but it also is in their power to achieve it.
To this effect I will focus on the role of each side in future posts.
LE.: Performance Feedback II – The Sender
LE 2: Performance Feedback III – The Receiver