Fixing Performance Management: Developmental Feedback

We really don’t know what future work environments will look like. We do know that it will be different. I’ve written about how these new circumstances REQUIRE the need to embrace uncertainty and set clear, agile goals. 

The same goes for making feedback agile (i.e. often). We know that in turbulent times, the clearer you can make work, the better the outcomes for individuals, teams, and the organization. Decreasing the amount of ambiguity in work plans will greatly contribute to your associates’ wellbeing. 

Make feedback normal. Not a performance review. 

– Ed Batista 

Managers are overwhelmed with work. The majority of America’s managers have received no management training, according to a study by West Monroe Partners. Gallup research showed that nearly half of employees say they receive feedback from their manager a few times a year or less. Most managers say they dislike giving feedback. Many conversations focus on character feedback rather than on behavior. 

It is imperative today that you create a culture of frequent conversations with your associates. A culture where every employee has the right to give feedback to another person in the organization – no matter where they may fall on your organizational chart. 

There should be conversations about the work, and separate conversations about how the individual is doing in these turbulent times. Combining the two into one conversation muddies the work conversation, resulting in many conversations ending with a lack of clarity about what needs to change.

Performance conversations should be often and about the work. 

  • Performance should be judged by achievement, not charisma.
  • Feedback should be about goal attainment, not behavioral conformity.
  • Managers are not therapists; workers are not children.

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. 

– Harvey S. Firestone

Having frequent conversations on goal progress creates more opportunities to assist in unblocking problems and allows for frequent course corrections throughout the year.

The essential characteristics of good developmental feedback is:

  • Goal-specific. 
  • Regular and immediate. 
  • Objective that is affirming & constructive (nobody likes a shit sandwich).
  • Well-rounded from peers, stakeholders and their manager.

It’s impossible today to avoid uncertainty but we can be a lot better prepared by setting clear, agile goals, and following up with frequent, honest feedback that focuses on the work. 

I love a spirited discussion, so let me know your thoughts. 

Stay safe. 

Gene Pease Founder & CEO, Mighty You

About Mighty You

Mighty You is an employee goals and feedback SaaS company founded by Gene Pease along with a team of world-class data scientists and engineers. Mr. Pease is a pioneer in the field of people analytics and performance, having sold his most recent workforce analytics company, Vestrics, to Ultimate Software in 2016.

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