Sunday, March 22, 2015

Delivering Feedback

"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates." said Thomas S Monson. It is not without reason that most of the midsize and large organizations establish elaborate Performance appraisal systems. However, in most of the organizations, this becomes an annual ritual instead of becoming a tool to continually accelerate performance improvement.

Many experienced leaders avoid delivering feedback to their employees till the mandatory annual performance review. In general, the employees know how they are doing but at times, the feedback comes as a surprise. 

Why do these experienced leaders avoid giving feedback?

The primary reason is that most leaders think feedback only in terms of negative feedback and they avoid upsetting the employees and they themselves are uncomfortable delivering it. The employee gets no feedback when doing his job as per expectation and is confused about how his performance is viewed by his leader.

Feedback is your gift to your employee. It should not be just once a year but should be all year long in small packets. In her book, "Unlock Behaviour Unleash Profits", Leslie Braksick mentions that the effective leaders maintain a ratio of 4:1 for positive feedback to constructive feedback. When the employee is accustomed to hearing both positive as well as constructive/developmental feedback he is more likely to accept it and will not be surprised when it comes up in annual review. 

To be able to deliver meaningful feedback to their employees leaders need to ask themselves for each of their employees, what should this person continue to do, what should he start doing and what should he stop doing to make him more effective in his job.

This also helps them identify both the strengths as well as developmental needs of their employees. 

To overcome their own discomfort in delivering feedback they need to ask themselves following three questions:

1. Who helped them grow in their own career? Were they leaders who appreciated their work and gave constructive feedback or the ones who micromanaged them constantly fearing that they would fail.
2.  What is their real intention? If their real intention is for the good of the employee then why should they hesitate to provide feedback and finally
3.     Would their feedback help employee achieve what they want him to achieve.

Once they have answers to these questions they will be comfortable delivering both type of feedback: positive as well as constructive and they will be well on their way to skillful display of the Art and Science of Leadership.

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