The Value of Timely Performance Feedback
Everyone appreciates performance feedback – the timelier, the better.
Leaders who provide feedback in a constructive manner develop others and foster a positive environment that instills loyalty. In doing so, they also foster an attitude that will lead to improved performance.
Coaching and developing others is a critical part of leadership. Since performance feedback is a critical aspect of an employee development plan, how a leader relates with others determines the level of effort they will get from their team.
Your decision making style is a function of your experiences, perceptions, and thinking habits, combined with your level of focus in the three dimensions of thought, that is, whether you lead with your head, heart, or hand.
In my article on employee motivators, I stated that every decision we make comes from our experiences, because our experiences influence our beliefs, and the more we experience something, the greater the intensity of our beliefs.
The way we make our decisions has a similar sequence. Like a river that logically flows, our thinking habits start from our experiences, which lead to perceptions based on patterns we believe affect outcomes, which influence our decision making style.
Why are employee performance evaluations so stressful?
When you think of performance appraisals, what is your first reaction? Management and staff shudder at the thought. Supervisors dread writing the report, but they want to get the job done. Employees don’t like surprises in their annual evaluation, but they want to get a good review.
A constructive way of conducting the employee performance review is to hold interim (quarterly) performance appraisals and make them part of a continuous employee development plan or process.
Lasting performance starts with setting performance goals, working together, and continuing with timely performance feedback.
Setting and achieving goals involves 5 steps: planning, goal setting, performance feedback, interim reviews, and evaluation. Interim reviews are critical during this process.
Let’s review a performance task that illustrates the importance of feedback and regularly checking work.
A pilot is required to land the aircraft at a designated airport during limited visibility, known as instrument meteorological conditions.
In this scenario, the pilot cannot see the ground consistently and must rely solely on her thorough cross-check of aircraft instruments to determine position. After verifying location, the pilot begins descent to the desired airport at an initial approach point determined by her location and altitude.
Assuming weather remains as forecast, if the pilot maintains a thorough cross-check of aircraft instruments that indicate airspeed, altitude, heading, location, and rate of descent, she will descend to the minimum descent altitude or decision height at a location with the airport in sight, where she can proceed and land.
If the pilot performs the approach properly, all aircraft instruments will remain within tolerance and she will receive “on course, on glide path” indications throughout the approach. At the beginning of the approach, the aircraft instruments appear less sensitive and any “on course, on glide path” deviation may appear minor.
If they are corrected early, the pilot can return the aircraft to the correct position easily.
As the pilot gets closer to the airfield, the instruments become increasingly sensitive. Adjustments that should have been made early on become more difficult to correct. Typically, the approach is more erratic or results in a failure to break out of the clouds at a point safe for landing.
Employee Performance Review
- Interim Review: Conducting an employee performance review via semi-formal feedback
Failure to maintain every variable correctly might cause the aircraft to be left or right of course, above or below glide path, or too fast or too slow. If the pilot gets out of tolerance, this will prompt a call from the air traffic controller monitoring the radar with an offer of assistance or other course corrections.
At the time or location of the decision point, the pilot must see the airport and determine whether they can proceed for a safe landing. If they cannot see the runway, the approach failed and becomes a missed approach that requires a go around and a need to try again.
Setting and Achieving Goals
When conducting an employee performance review, as with any task, it is much easier to take corrective action early on.
This requires that leaders have regular contact with their employees so that they coach and mentor along the way. This allows for discussion and clarification via “foot locker” coaching sessions along the way.
Next, if you conduct periodic, semi-formal reviews (quarterly or some other interval), you allow both parties the opportunity to adjust.
For example, if you conduct semi-formal “pencil” sessions on a quarterly basis, it would provide both a chance to conduct less threatening rehearsal sessions of the formal review. Here, both manager and employee have the opportunity for a full exchange of ideas without the stress of the annual review.
During the remaining time available, everyone can take the necessary corrective action instead of waiting for the formal review at annual appraisal time.
A quarterly or interim employee performance review provides a mechanism for tracking employee performance and making any necessary adjustments before conducting employee performance evaluations.
Make your interim reviews a small part of the appraisal process by providing feedback and encouraging growth and development.
10 Steps to Managing Employee Conflict
At one point or another, every leader will experience an employee conflict.
To prevent this situation, leaders must establish and maintain a positive environment where employees are motivated and the team works together.
Ideally, leaders should counsel their staff to guide and mentor them as part of their employee development plan.
70% of businesses suffer from a lack of employee engagement.
- Can you influence your business team from within?
- If you change your perspective, what performance improvement is possible?
In The 360-Degree Leader, John C. Maxwell notes that most leadership comes from within an organization, not from the top.
Employee Empowerment: Leadership Factors
Two significant leadership factors involving employee empowerment include:
1) The growth and development of the employee, and
2) The ability of the leader to accomplish so much more.
For any high-performing employee promoted to a management position, they soon realize the demands for their time have increased exponentially. If they had not appreciated time management concepts before, they quickly realize how important delegating, empowering, and time principles are for reducing stress, and ultimately, their future success.
An employee training and development program starts with setting professional development goals, with your employees!
Sometimes, when managers share knowledge or experience, they forget how much more they know about a topic. When they assume employees understand more than what they actually know, there’s a communication gap.
After observing a day of interaction between a Vice President and his Program Manager, it appeared pretty clear to the VP that they would start the next day picking up where they left off. To the VP’s surprise, however, the program manager had not internalized the concepts from the day prior.
Running effective business meetings is a sign of your potential.
Imagine you are new and you have been given the responsibility to run a business meeting via the corporate video-teleconferencing facility.
It’s expensive to use and booked solid. You have only one hour to conduct your meeting and depart the facility before the next group is scheduled to arrive.
Your boss will be there and you recognize that this session will showcase your leadership and team building skills as well.
Effective Teamwork: a 360-degree Look
Effective teamwork is critical for every successful organization.
In order to reap the benefits of teamwork, leaders must not only lead, they must be able to work well with upper management and their colleagues while setting the example for their team.
Teamwork in the workplace means it is everyone’s job to make and improve the team.
There is a false perception that leadership always comes from the top, but you can find leadership anywhere on a team. While ideal if those in management positions always exhibited the greatest leadership traits, the reality is sometimes otherwise.
Leadership is about the ability to influence, therefore, informal leadership occurs when any member persuades others to do great things. Whether formal or informal, leadership from any direction contributes and improves your teamwork in the workplace.
Management vs Leadership
What is the your management style?
- Is there a distinction between management style and leadership style?
- Are the leadership characteristics different?
- How will subtle differences between the two can affect your business?
There are a number of leadership qualities an effective leader might possess; one is the ability to care for each employee as an individual.
Knowing the Importance of People
From the time you meet a prospective employee and through their inevitable departure, a true leader treats others as they would want to be treated.
- What are some qualities of a good leader?
A true leader knows that employees are the company’s most valuable resource, and just as a leader must continue their own education, they must coach and help others grow as well.
Placing value on everyone’s need to grow is one of the qualities that characterize a true leader.
What is your definition of leadership?
A Military Definition of Leadership:
“An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.”- FM 6-22
Learning to lead is easiest when you have a great example to follow.
Top Executive Lacks Authority to Make Decisions Stick
Authority vs Responsibility: Recently, I had another interesting discussion that centered on the ability of the United States Postmaster General.