Some like it HOT, some don't like it at all - and we like it HEALTHY
In our study with leaders, we observe that managers have some thoughts / beliefs about giving feedback during performance evaluation periods. We wanted to share an article about these beliefs with you.
But first, it is important to reflect and answer the following questions in general:
- Could you organize feedback meetings just once a year due to your business load?
- Do you think that even though you give clear and continuous feedback, your employees are still underdeveloped and take no initiative?
- Are you afraid of giving negative feedback, affecting your employees' motivation or losing them?
- Is it stressful for you to have a feedback conversation with an employee who you think performs poorly?
If your answer to just one of these questions is yes, then this article is written for you.
Feedback is the most valuable gift for development!
The Johari window is a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955. (See Graphic)
As we can discover blind spots about ourselves, or we can use it to raise awareness about the blind spots of others this is an incredibly effective development tool. Taking and giving active feedback provides awareness of blind areas and expands the arena in relationships. This forms the basis of safe and strong relationships.
On writing this article, one experience came to my mind that I would like to share:
A company that we are consulting asked us to evaluate one of the executive candidates before his/her promotion. We made this evaluation and presented our evaluation to the promotion committee in the company. Although the person was ready for the next promotion step, the promotion committee has decided that this person should not be promoted.
In their conversation amongst themselves, they decided that they would support a person, who was not ready for promotion at this stage, especially for certain responsibilities. I asked them the question: "Have you ever given this person feedback on his/her area of development?" The answer was, "Of course, we have our regular feedback meetings."
My goal is not to criticize executives, but they may have to complete such important issues in the busy business life with quick discussions. I can understand them. However, I would like to draw attention to the point that these behaviors in autopilot do not serve the development of employees.
Returning to the story, the candidate was promoted one year later. After becoming a manager, what would you think was the most important leadership tool for him? Of course, FEEDBACK! He gave lots of feedback to his whole team and shared his own story: “If there is no feedback, you wouldn't know what to improve in others and yourself, so the most important competence is feedback”.
Getting feedback is as important as giving feedback!
Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman talk about how getting feedback has become a phobia as HBR's articles published in 2013 seemed more criticized.
They show in their research that managers who receive feedback continuously and regularly show a more effective leadership than managers who do not receive feedback:
In the study of 51,896 executives, those who ranked at the bottom 10% in asking for feedback were rated at the 15th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness. On the other hand, leaders who ranked at the top 10% in asking for feedback had an average rating of the 86th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness.
What should be considered for a constructive and developmental feedback culture?
In this part of our “Performance-Feedback-Development” article series, we emphasized WHY it is important to give and receive feedback, which is one of the most valuable and effective development tools. Now we will discuss what to pay attention to while giving feedback, and what attitudes and approaches should be displayed and we will focus on HOW to give a constructive and progressive feedback.
When we look at the methods of giving feedback, there are many models. I want to give you some brief information about the two models that you might like and even use.
An effective model for instant feedback: EAR
EAR is a completely objective, observational method of giving feedback, free from individual interpretation in any event / situation.
- E - Event: Define the event / status. Be clear about when and where. Share your observations about the event / situation objectively without comments.
- A - Action: Define observable behavior. Do not assume that you know what the other person feels thinking. Share the behavior you want to give feedback, not personality traits, without blame and judgment.
- R - Result: Share the effect of what you have observed or what you feel.
In one of our leadership development programs where we talked about the EAR model, a group of participants developed a similar approach with creativity and impressive curiosity:
When you receive an EAR feedback and you feel FEAR (fear), remember that this is your "blind spot". Recall that this feedback is an EARN (gain) and motivate yourself, thinking that this process will result in a LEARN (learning). EAR - FEAR - EARN - LEARN is really a creative approach!
An effective model for process feedback: Good – Tricky – Different
This model is practical and very powerful at the end of a presentation or in performance interviews, 1:1 meetings, project follow-ups / evaluations or monthly departmental meetings.
If during performance processes your aim is to share your observations and thoughts and to listen to the other party's observations and thoughts about the same process, and if you ask open-ended coaching questions to understand the unclear points, we strongly recommend using the Good - Tricky - Different model.
When using this model in performance interviews, in addition to points that are going well, you can also point out mistakes and shortcomings. In this way you can see what is wrong with the process and bring new approaches.
Before the feedback interview, you can inform your employees about this method and ask them to be prepared for it.
- GOOD: Assess the points that are both behaviorally and psychologically good in the process. What went well? What have we accomplished? What behaviors were good? What have we done well? Answer each other's questions in this section.
- TRICKY: Assess the errors in the process in both behavioral and psychological terms. What was bothering us, blocked, somehow we couldn't get over it? Why did we find it so difficult? What was our feeling when it suddenly became difficult? At what point did we get lost and ignore our goal? Since we couldn't meet the other person's needs, maybe we blocked the system and hindered each other?
Both you and your employee have to answer the questions yourself. The most important thing is to listen (beginner spirit) and not to judge.
- DIFFERENT: It is useful to specify analytically by allocating a larger space to the section of the challenge. After completing this section, what would I do differently if I did this operation again to prevent it from happening again? What do I want to remove from the current process, what do I want to add? What should I look out for? What would I pay more attention to in the future?
Concentrate on recognizing the insights gained from the questions and creating a concrete action plan with this awareness.
4 tips that will lead you to successful feedback
There are some steps we can suggest to you to better manage your performance processes and to support your employees' development by providing structured feedback and to achieve business results.
1. Clarify your intention and expression
Clarify your intention and purpose, ask yourself these questions:
- "Why am I doing this meeting?"
- "My goal for this feedback conversation is .... My attitude will be aligned accordingly."
- "Which format and which content serve to make sense for both of us and how can I support the development of my interlocutor?"
When the answers to these questions are clear to you, the language you use in the interview will be clear as well, so that you can have the opportunity to speak with all your clarity and evaluate the opportunities for solutions.
Let your intention be reflected in your language. If your intention is to tell your employee that you do not like their performance, say this. But before you say you don't like the other person, ask yourself the following questions:
- “This intention meets or does not meet my need”
- "How can this intention benefit me, what can it benefit me?"
- “What exactly bothers me?”
- “Do similar behaviors that I have seen in others disturb me in the same way?”
- “What thoughts and behaviors can I have that cause this discomfort in me”
When you answer these questions to yourself, you also coach your blind spots in a sense.
The purpose of the feedback is to identify blind spots. Is it your intention to gently show the other person blind spots? Do you avoid or are you ready to experience your own blind spots?
Provide feedback based on the answers to these questions. The content may be uncomfortable, but does not contain personal attacks.
You will be heard, if you clarify your intentions and give feedback at the right time.
Avoid definitions that leave space for interpretation in feedback interviews:
- “I think it's pretty good towards the end of the year”
- “You are very tired in this project, but this is not enough”
- “I hear some negative statements about you from your colleagues, you should pay attention to them”
Feedback is communication and should never be received as a lecture. If you want communication to be bilateral, you should understand the other person's communication style and avoid TOXIC communication. Read here what needs to be considered in toxic communication.
2. Be open and sincere in giving feedback, even if it is critical feedback
According to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folk, providing honest and open feedback is linked to employee engagement,.
The effectiveness of the managers in the lowest 10% segment in giving honest feedback on employee loyalty is at the level of 25%. Employees in the team of these executives do not like the work they do, they have low loyalty and always think of leaving work.
The executives in the highest 10% segment at giving honest feedback have 77% impact on employee loyalty.
The widely heard criticism of the performance process is that managers cannot give negative information. I can understand that this is a difficult issue for these managers.
However, a new performance management study in 53 countries showed that only 5% of employees believe in the ability to establish an intimate dialogue about their managers' performances. (Mercer, 2013)
Another research also includes the opinions of HR professionals, and only 2% give managers in their companies an "A" rating for their performance management skills. (SHRM, 2014).
Finally, some research results show that younger generations expect and develop more frequent and honest feedback. (Economist, 2015, Finn and Donovan, 2013, Rainer and Rainer, 2011)
3. Conduct your feedback talks at regular intervals, not 2 or 3 times a year.
Hold frequent feedback talks. Configure the process of giving and receiving feedback based on your natural process and your team's level of knowledge, skills and perception. Add weekly, monthly, project completion, periodically structured feedback giving / receiving meetings to your calendar.
The duration of the meeting is not necessarily 1-2 hours each time, even half an hour may be enough for meetings once a month. The important thing is to appreciate the well-done works and to express the areas of development.
Jon Windust talks about his research on the frequency of giving feedback. In his scientific research he stated that the feedback meetings held once a month will focus the employee in the areas that they need to improve and have a positive effect on performance. It is also stated in the study that there is no serious difference between weekly meetings and monthly meetings.
4. Show coaching approach in feedback talks
Use your coaching skills in feedback interviews and, if necessary, develop these skills further.
Use statements from an adult. Do not speak of the worries, the anger, the gratitude of the past, or the worries and dreams of the future. Concentrate on understanding and narrating and focus only on the moment you are in.
Make sure you have the following approaches when interviewing or giving feedback:
- Non-judgemental mind: Events around us do not just happen between black and white, or between good and evil. But our minds are inclined to see it that way, to categorize it, this is inherent in it.
The important thing is to remind yourself of your intentions when you realize that you are judging. Focus on your intention and try to approach objectively.
- Beginner’s mind: Even though you have made the feedback interview hundreds of times, even if you know everything about the person in front of you and about this performance, this meeting is a new experience for you and him.
Experience and knowledge are different things. You can get different results and experience different awareness every time you are open to learn something new.
It is the place where learning and development begin, wonder, ask questions and stay vigilant with interest. Remain sincere without assuming that you already know the answers. When you find that you have assumptions and judgments, you can remember these approaches.
- Generosity: Be generous in knowledge, compassion, understanding. It is a huge gift for the other person to be present with full interest and willingness to learn something new. This promotes trust and loyalty.
- Gratitude: Appreciate yourself and others for what has been done during this process, and thank yourself. Thank your interlocutor for the sincerity, opening and showing, and willingness to evolve.
For those who came to this part of the article, I want to say THANK YOU. Thank you for your attention and for your interest in developing yourself and your employees. Maybe there are also those of you who say: "These tips and approaches overwhelm me. It exceeds my skills or my motivation to put this into everyday work."
Yes, I really understand you. Years ago, when I was in management in a large organization, I felt very similar. And I was no exception.
Based on my personal but also many years of professional experience, I can say that these behaviors neither benefit your development nor the development of your employees, and in the long term have a negative impact on loyalty, trust, commitment and ultimately on the business results.
You can rely on us and we can support you in establishing a feedback culture in your organization. Whichever way you choose, I wish you good luck and many positive experiences with giving and receiving feedback that develops.