Making Performance Feedback Meaningful

How successful would any sports team be without a coach to provide it with meaningful performance feedback? Yet consider how many organizations either don’t provide their teams with any meaningful performance feedback or the value of the feedback gets lost in the “fire drill” of forms and process. As you get ready to conduct mid-year reviews or in anticipation of year-end reviews, consider how you can incorporate these three perspectives to get the best performance from your employees through performance feedback. 

Treat Individual Performance as Seriously as Organizational Performance. Organizational success doesn’t happen by accident; it takes forethought, preparation, and execution. Likewise, take the time get to know your employees, how they are performing, and what they need to do to perform at their best. Figure out what you need to do to provide employees with specific and timely feedback that keeps them focused on what really matters and where they can contribute and develop the most. Treat performance feedback as a natural extension of your ongoing coaching rather than as an isolated and disconnected event. 

Structure Your Process to Create True Value for the Organization and the Employee.  Focus on how your process is conducted and on what is required to achieve quality outcomes. Forms and processes are simply enablers; the real value comes from quality conversations, clear messages, and specific action plans. Figure out what you need to do to ensure that the process actually creates value for both the organization and the employee.

Focus on Clarity. Frame the performance feedback discussion as a collaborative opportunity for both the manager and the employee to clearly and constructively discuss performance against goals and action planning. A balanced assessment from a credible and supportive manager goes a long way toward engendering understanding, buy-in, and commitment from employees. Clear and consistent messages allow you to reinforce what is working, correct what needs to improve, identify action steps, and recognize what has been accomplished.      

When treated as a natural complement to your ongoing coaching, performance feedback can be a powerful tool in developing your employees. Don’t let the mechanics of the process overshadow or undermine the true value that can be realized from providing meaningful performance feedback to employees.