As a leader, feedback is and will always be challenging. Why? Because you intrinsically want to be the “nice guy” and you were probably told to sandwich feedback – good, bad, good. Well, the reality is that people want and deserve to know how they are doing and they don’t like surprises, it should be frequent and fair.
Frequent feedback means that you are giving feedback more than just once or twice a year. Typically, organizations have mid-year and year-end feedback cycles, otherwise known as performance reviews. The intent of the mid-year is to provide a sense check, so that where necessary, behaviors can be adjusted before year end. Year-ends are an opportunity to recap performance for the year, link performance to compensation, and in some cases, discuss goals for the next year.
As smart leader will provide feedback at intervals in addition to those. Monthly one-on-ones and use of teachable moments to provide candid, constructive feedback allow leaders to share their thoughts with their employees more often, so that the mid-year and year-end sessions are less a surprise and more a culmination of conversations throughout the year.
Fairness, while subjective in nature, is really about a couple of things. One is timing – giving feedback in the moment allows them to connect the behavior with results and leadership expectations. These are the “teachable moments”. The second part is in examples – giving specific examples of the gap, goal or the good that they do. This again helps them connect the dots, but also focuses on specific behaviors & circumstances, as opposed to the individual.
So as you do your goal and performance setting for 2020, take time to set clear plans for fair and frequent feedback. It will make your life easier when it comes to managing performance AND your employees will appreciate and often improve as a result.
If you struggle with feedback, let’s talk! I may be able to help.