It is impossible to navigate life without causing a few ripples here and there. In our work lives, there inevitably comes a time to give or receive feedback on our performance. Most managers and team members would rather avoid than welcome a performance review. Some would prefer a root canal to a face-to-face feedback session!
But the performance feedback process does not have to be painful if these principles are adhered to faithfully by managers and employees.
If you’re in a position to give feedback
This is no time to work in a bias, although a part of you may feel like giving an employee a stern talking-to, and perhaps they may deserve it. Remember that as a supervisor, your task is to guide, motivate, and help your underlings grow and perform better. Though there is a time and place for a firmer hand, cyclic performance reviews should be structured upon fairness, constructiveness, and facts. It is important to take emotion out of the mix and impart feedback objectively until you understand where the employee is coming from and the drivers behind certain attitudes or behaviours that you might have felt are red flags. By being open, honest, and most importantly, approachable, you can begin to work with your employee towards a more beneficial work persona and work ethic.
For first-time managers, the first feedback session can be a particularly sticky wicket. You may have been promoted above the people you hung out by the water cooler with, or perhaps had your orientation or first coffee with. The thought of coming at them from a managerial perch might make you cringe. In such a situation, look for a guide or mentor among your seniors who have leaped this hurdle in the past, and look to them for cues to handle this first essential review.
Do not worry about being liked, hated, or judged: after all, it is your job to make sure you provide the most authentic feedback that is, in turn, necessary for others to do their jobs well. Don’t hold back on either negative feedback or praise wherever it is deserved.
If you’re at the receiving end of feedback
Understand that both positive and negative feedback are equally valuable building blocks on your career path.
This is no time to take a defensive stance, whether in expression, speech, or body language. Acknowledge that feedback is an essential part of career growth. Listen attentively, encourage the person to give feedback to be forthright and open, and leave nothing to interpretation. Ask for specific examples if you are unsure of what is being alluded to. If you disagree with something that is being said, do a quick internal recce to ascertain that you are calm and collected before bringing forth your point of view.
Understand that a performance review/feedback session is an invaluable opportunity to discover more about how others perceive you and how colleagues feel about your work style in general. You will learn about the actions and behaviour patterns that invite collaboration and the best and worst habits within your work self.
Show high regard for the person giving you feedback and appreciate the time and effort they have put into your assessment. Thank them for their involved approach and make a graceful exit.
It is up to you how you internalize and process everything you have learned and form a personal strategy on putting the feedback to use in your job. Do not drop the ball on this!
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