In preparation to the annual performance evaluation, I was looking for inspiration for a meaningful exercise. I accept occasional ticking the box exercises in minor, impactless things, but not in the case of performance evaluation. Too much is at stake. For all concerned. The appraiser included. Assuming regular feedback is happening, the one-to-one performance discussion/interview is very important. It cements the relation by positive emphasis on where things are and their next frontier.
I was looking for inspiration and discovered the HRB article “Giving a High Performer Productive Feedback” by Amy Gallo, December 3, 2009. It gives a structured approach to the performance evaluation and provides guidance on Do and Dont. Just back from a performance interview, I realised that this approach is transferable to all team members, whom one may not necessarily recognise as stellar.
“If you want people to change, give them positive feedback” is a well known adagio.
Appart from following the pretty standard structure of discussion around:
1. current performance
2. next performance frontier
3. aspirations, goals
I also include a few more personalised touches:
1. Show gratitude. Focus on how the performance was achieved. At what cost? (family-work balance).
2. What would you like to do next? What do you want to be known for in the project/programme/organisation? What matters to you most?
3. What can i do to support you on the path to excellence?
I would focus on “excellence”. We are all able to fly. It’s often the appreciation – the fuel – that keeps us grounded or makes us fly. How stellar is the team depends often on how the project manager praises and appraises its members.
T.H.I.N.K helps shape the feedback:
T – true
H – helpful
I – inspiring
N – necessary
K – kind
For individual and team learning it is equally important to be clear about room for improvement. We tend to stay away from negative feedback and there is research on that (“The Feedback Fallacy”, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, HBR, March–April 2019 Issue). I also tend to agree with Craig Chappelow and Cindy McCauley “What Good Feedback Really Looks Like”, HBR of May 13, 2019. The key is to focus on Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) to “address both strengths and weaknesses in a clear, specific, professional and caring way”.
Case in point:
An example of SBI from my experience: “Just before the conference was about to start, the interpreter refused to work. I had to persuade her to stay, otherwise I would have had to interpret. I had to moderate the discussion in the room (situation). You were always at conferences’ venues to make sure all is well prepared (behaviour). What went differently this time? What can we do to make sure it does not repeat? (impact)”. As the feedback focused on learning the cause and on future, it was well received. No other incidents of this kind occurred in the project.