As HR professionals or even business leaders, we have to work on designing and developing a good performance management system. It is one of the most important processes in any organization since it has the power to retain people.
There is a range of things that can actually make your performance feedback process better for you as well as the person who is receiving it.
- Consistent – The goals and how the person performs on those will keep changing. But your manner of sharing should remain consistent and professional. For example, if the person has done very well, you should praise him or her, and also factor in the areas of development. Similarly, if the person has not done so well, areas of development should be discussed, but first you must appreciate any of the other good work that was done.
- Specific – Do not beat around the bush. Performance feedback must always be specific and to the point. It should not be about vague instances, but about factual data.
- Focused – It should be focused on driving the priorities that are most important, and not spread over a range of things that the manager wants to simply share. So use the performance feedback conversations wisely.
- Results-oriented – Feedback should be results-oriented and not ambiguous about what is the next step. So link the feedback you provide, to the impact it can have, on the business and the individual.
- Comprehensive – Your process should have data collated from many different sources. It should not be restricted to specific opinion, instance or process. Employee performance can be assessed on many parameters and so ensure that inputs from all stakeholders are taken.
- Vision-linked – It should be linked to organizational vision, values and the kind of culture it wants to drive. Do you want to drive an informal and open culture of sharing feedback, or a formal and structured approach?
- Bias-free – All of us have high or low degrees of unconscious bias. But we need to be aware of it and not let it creep into the performance feedback process.
- Performance–based – Make it specific to the performance and the behavior related to that only. Do not give feedback on personal attributes that have no correlation to the work.
- Timeliness – If you keep delaying feedback it loses its value and impact. So whether it is positive or negative, have the conversation immediately.
- Understandable – Make sure to not get into complicated language that can intimidate or confuse the person. Keep the feedback simple and easy to receive.
- Dialogue based – Often feedback sharing related to performance becomes a one-way process. Try to encourage a conversation when providing the feedback rather than simply talking about the performance. Exchanging a dialogue has more fruitful results.
- Transparent – Remember that transparency is the key. Keep the communication honest and clear. You should be transparent about how the feedback was obtained and the necessary next steps.
- Ongoing – One feedback conversation is not enough. It is a process and needs your involvement so that you can guide the individual accordingly. So do not keep it close-ended. Have follow-up discussions as well.
- Coaching – The person receiving the feedback always feels overwhelmed. So whether it is good or bad, make sure that you spend adequate time in coaching the person informally. Mentor them to able to process the information and put it to good use.
- Technology – The human element cannot be neglected when it comes to the performance feedback process. But alongside technology can also play a big role in capturing data that can add to the feedback discussions.
- Linkages – Connect the feedback process to training and development, compensation and the other related people processes in the correct manner. Those linkages are essential for sustaining the process.
- No comparisons – Steer clear of comparing two employees with each other when you give feedback. The comparison does not lead to healthy competition and it negatively impacts collaboration as well.
- Leadership Involvement – Your leadership team needs to know how this process is carried out. They should be involved in the design stage as well as in some discussions with individuals, to get an idea of how it can be improved and made better.
- Guidelines – While giving feedback in a certain way is a personal choice, all managers should have a set of guidelines to follow. They must use a standard approach or template for all employees.
- Monitoring mechanism – The process needs to be monitored for lapses and loopholes, regularly. There need to be regular process checks that can help you revisit it and make it better with each cycle.
- Market inputs – A performance feedback process is internal to your organization. But you still need to get a sense of the market and what competitors do well. This is because the feedback process and the employee’s experience of it can actually help them decide whether they want to continue with the firm or not.
The process is extremely powerful because it sends out the organization’s messages to its employees in a succinct way. A great feedback process which handholds the employee gives him or her faith to continue. A bad one makes them leave because it focuses on belittling them.