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#35 - Feedback: Take 2

This past September, we explored the challenging topic of giving feedback, one of the most difficult conversations a manager can have with an employee. And since, for many managers, this is the season of performance assessments, it’s definitely worth a second look.
Knowing the difference: Performance Assessment vs. Feedback Conversation

First thing’s first, many managers use the terms ‘feedback’ and ‘performance assessment’ interchangeably. And for both scenarios, the goal is to assess a situation and find actionable solutions to identified problems. However, there are important differences between the two.
A performance assessment:
  • Happens once a year.
  • Includes rating scales for achieving work objectives and core competencies.
  • Involves an informal mid-year review. 
A feedback conversation:
  • Takes place over time.
  • Deals with one issue over one or more conversations.
  • Is accomplished in small doses (several small installments).
  • Keeps the line of communication open.
Understandably, performance assessments and feedback conversations can be stressful for both managers and employees. Employees can feel personally judged, and worry that their livelihood is threatened. Managers are often charged with the difficult task of delivering negative news. However, both can be accomplished respectfully and with compassion in a way that meets the manager’s need for delivering an honest assessment of her employee’s work, and also meets the employee’s needs for respect and recognition.

In addition, feedback conversations on an ongoing basis are crucial opportunities for both manager and employee to clear the air, be honest with and respectful of each other, and grow from the exchange.

Setting your intention: Preparing For the Feedback conversation
The key to a fruitful feedback conversation is preparation!
This means framing a clear intention, and deciding what hat you will wear before stepping into the meeting.  The intentions we frame prior to engaging in feedback sessions vary according to circumstance:

A broad intention: My intention is to have a dialogue resulting in a positive outcome for the person with whom I am conversing and for myself.
An open ended intention: My intention is to convey my position, listen carefully to her position, and then come back later with a decision.
A resolved intention: My intention is to inform him that I am initiating disciplinary measures.

Whatever the case may be, establishing a clear intention for yourself in advance of a potentially stressful conversation can help to ensure that you and your employees understand your common goals so that you can achieve them. 

Deciding on what hat I shall wear: Am I a manager representing the best interests of the organization, a friend who wants to listen, and a coach who is curious about what’s going on and what’s possible?  There are many ways of showing up in a conversation, each bringing different values to the table. These approaches can certainly overlap, but be clear about which hat you’re wearing. It’s probably not a good idea to be a friend to someone you’re disciplining or terminating. You may feel compassion, but telling them you empathize may get you a pretty aggressive response.
Congratulations! By understanding the difference between feedback conversation and performance assessment, and by setting clear intention, you are ready for the next step, the feedback conversation itself. Until next week,


Would you like to hear more on this topic?

I'd like to invite you to join me and the team at on March 25, 2015 as I host a webcast entitled The Manager's Dilemma: "I'm supposed to be a Coach too?" Or The Art of Giving Feedback.  Membership is free and the webcast is complimentary.  
For details, click on the link below.  I hope you'll tune in!