Feedback: The guidance system for performance

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Think of performance feedback like traffic signals and signs. They are indicators that keep you moving, tell you when to stop and guide you in the right direction.

What if your performance management process was like this? Simple and easy to understand.

Most traditional performance processes are cumbersome, complicated and often do not align with organizational goals or culture. Many of us don’t see the value.

This can be the typical performance scenario:

An employee meets with me their manager once a year to review their past performance. They have a conversation about areas of success and areas in need of improvement. New objectives may be established for the employee, or the employee may define their own. A year from now they will find out how they did on these new expectations.

Here is the misalignment – People perform on a daily basis, so why shouldn’t they receive feedback and recognition immediately? Think of your own professional career and how many times have you said to yourself “I wish I had known about that before…I could have made changes.” Or if you have ever heard “that’s not what I expected from you”…don’t you think to yourself “How was I supposed to know that?”

If everyone had the opportunity to be agile and make small improvements along the way, many potential performance issues could be resolved easily. That’s the key – knowing how you are performing and knowing what people think, at any given point.

Like most people, I appreciate recognition for a job well done and not just from my boss, but by my peers. And why is that? Studies show that upwards of 90% of HR professionals say feedback from an employee’s peers across the organization is more accurate than feedback provided by just an employee’s manager or supervisor.

When we speak to great leaders, almost all of them will say that their leadership is only as effective as the team that supports them. Successful organizations are founded on engaged and empowered people; talented individuals that are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. These are teams that share reciprocal trust and are transparent about what they are doing and how they are doing it. This is when true collaboration and innovation happens.

Setting clear expectations and objectives is paramount for cultivating great performers. Better yet, let them set their own objectives aligned with the organization. This creates accountability and responsibility, and we all know that when you give someone responsibility, great things happen. Take it one step further and share your objectives with peers, and watch the collaborative efforts come to life.

You have heard all this before, correct? And although as a manager and as an employee of the organization yourself, you see the value in this kind of transparent and timely feedback. It always translates into extra work that you just don’t have time for, right?

Imagine all the feedback, recognition and objectives – from everyone – collected in one place and ready for the performance review. That’s the key word…review, not start from scratch every time. It is your chance to have a look at all the accumulated information without having to try to find it or remember it. Then you can have that meaningful conversation about performance.

We live in an age where technology offers us the opportunity to bring social engagement to life. Teams can communicate and collaborate in real-time. Feedback happens almost immediately. Information and data can be collected and readily available for review. A recent article from Checkside, a consulting firm focused on people, engagement & productivity, shows how technology can be used in this area – How technology can help engage the remaining two-thirds of your people!

As an HR professional, I have seen many processes and tools that have failed to align with the true performance goals of an organization, leaving managers and employees feeling disengaged and unproductive. What I have always valued, beyond anything else, is the continuous feedback and recognition…this is the path to success.

Tim Baker, CHRP
Client Success
Small Improvements

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