Your performance management process may be short-changing both your company and the employee under review. If you’re looking to extract the best from your employees, to keep them motivated and to watch them grow… then performance reviews may not be effective.
Part of the reason for this is that performance reviews are often linked with compensation and the employee is well aware of that link. The flaw in this is that it sets up the performance conversations to become either a negotiation or a means of addressing grievances. This inherently puts the employee in a mindset of defensiveness (fight or flight) rather than growth.
Additionally, performance reviews aren’t a conversation so much as a top-down, limited perspective evaluation. The employee doesn’t feel invited to participate, but rather feels stressed at the prospect of entering this high-stakes situation.
If you want to enjoy better retention rates, happier and more motivated employees and company growth, you’ll want to reconsider your performance management processes.
Here are 6 tips for using constructive feedback during performance conversations to draw out the best in your employees:
Start with relationship
There are two people involved in the feedback process—the giver and the receiver. If you’ve ever given feedback, you’ll know that your best intentions don’t mean much if the person on the receiving end feels threatened, afraid or defensive.
Trust is the key and the groundwork for effective communication. If you’ve not established a habit of having one-on-one performance conversations with your employees, then now is the best time to start doing that. Build your relationship with them to establish trust and they’ll be ready to receive feedback.
You can create a growth culture by developing an expectation of feedback among your employees. Whether you have a regular, quarterly feedback conversation started, or you’re just really good to check-in with your employees on a regular basis… the more consistent you are, the more they’ll come to expect—even look forward to—these growth conversations.
Come prepared to your performance conversations
Before sitting down with your employee, try to familiarise yourself with their background, the projects they’re working on and their strengths and weaknesses.
And preparation goes both ways. Consider giving your employee a questionnaire to fill out so they know what questions to expect, and so they can prepare their own questions. You may even want to download SABA’s 10-minute check-in conversation guide as a quick resource.
Model receiving feedback
Part of creating a growth culture is being the model for what you want to see in your employees. You’ve likely done some research on how to give feedback. But have you ever tried searching for how to receive feedback during your performance conversations?
Receiving feedback is inherently challenging for a variety of reasons. The number one being, it makes us feel threatened. It’s important to understand the psychology behind why receiving feedback is so difficult in order to overcome it and set the example for how you want communication to happen in your company.
Arrive with goals in mind
According to one survey, only 20% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they’ve had a conversation with their manager about setting goals in the last six months.
Your company will enjoy greater productivity and success if everyone is on board and aligned with company goals. Employees will also enjoy higher morale as they’ll feel a sense of ownership in the successes of the company.
Come to your feedback meeting ready to listen to your employee’s professional goals, share your company goals and help your employee align their goals with the company’s.
Know your feedback style
You may be a logic-driven person who prefers to speak directly and in terms of facts and data. Be aware that your employee may not receive feedback in the same way. Direct statements and cold, hard facts may put your employee in a state of fight or flight because they don’t feel safe or comfortable.
On the other hand, you may be overly empathetic and uncomfortable with offering negative feedback. This can be harmful in its own way. It can cause you to eliminate growth-building perspectives, leaving your employee feeling confused and stagnant.
The best balance is to come to the table with a foundation of trust, a familiarity with your employee’s strengths and areas of improvement, a willingness to listen and receive feedback and transparency about your goals both for the employee and for the company.
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