Webinar: Why Performance Evaluations & Effective Feedback Matter

This recorded session was presented live on June 15, 2023.

Presentation Slides


Great performance management can mean the difference between highly engaged employees and those just punching the clock. When done well, performance evaluations provide employees with actionable feedback, clear expectations for performance going forward, and well-defined goals for the next review period. They also give employers the documentation they need to justify pay adjustments or other employment decisions.

For the performance management process to be truly effective, it must contain ongoing manager support and feedback outside of the formal performance review. Join us and our HR partner, Mineral, as we unpack performance management topics that shift the HR landscape for growing businesses.

Presenter: Aimee Pedretti, GPHR, SHRM-SCP | Sr. Manager, HR Consulting & Strategy, Mineral

Aimee Pedretti

Aimee is a recognized leader in the field of Human Resources. Previously, she held HR leadership roles for an international humanitarian relief and development organization and worked as an HR consultant to small and mid-sized companies. She has provided consultative services to a wide range of industries including aerospace, professional sports (NBA), technology, luxury retail, service industry, medical, engineering, environmental and social service non-profits. She’s also a coach and professional futurist.


Session Transcript:

All [00:00:30] right. Good morning, everyone. Good afternoon, depending on where you’re joining us from. Thanks for being here. [00:01:00] My name’s Aimee. I’m excited to welcome you to our webinar, Why Performance Evaluations and Effective Feedback Matter? So brief introduction of who I am. I’ve been in the HR field over two decades, have held various HR leadership roles throughout the years before becoming a consultant to small and midsize businesses. And I’ve done consultative HR services to just a real wide range of industries, probably the one you’re in, [00:01:30] aerospace, professional sports, tech, service, retail, you get the idea. So I’m also a coach and just happen to wear the hat of professional futurist as well.

All right. So jumping right in, quick housekeeping items. So first just we’ll e-mail a PDF of the slides. You’ll get a recording of the webinar and that should be right around 24 hours. And then we’ll offer a post webinar [00:02:00] survey and we’d really appreciate that you help give us some feedback and participate in that. And then at the end I’ll hold a brief Q&A. So throughout the webinar you can put the questions in. They’ll be held till the end, but if you scroll down underneath the video player, there’s a questions tab there next to the post webinar survey tab. So that’s where you put the questions so that when we get to that portion I can answer questions. So I do anticipate being able to end at the scheduled time, but sometimes [00:02:30] we get some great questions and go a couple of minutes longer. But just know that the Q&A are part of the recording.

Okay, so let’s chat a bit about the agenda for our time together today. I will start a bit by setting the stage and just say this whole webinar is designed for folks that are wanting a real broad overview here. And so if you’re new to performance evaluations, if you’ve been [00:03:00] doing them for a while, want to put a new process in place, you’re in the right place. So we’ll set the stage a bit, I’ll talk a bit about what a performance evaluation is, why we do them. Then we’ll talk more at length about the pieces to consider for performance evaluation, what goes into creating one. Then we’ll talk about how to create performance and development goals. And then finally we’ll talk about delivering feedback and then how your mindset impacts your team’s performance, perhaps my favorite part there at the end. And then of course as mentioned, I’m [00:03:30] going to leave some couple of minutes the end to answer a handful of questions.

All right. So I think it’s always useful to start out with a common definition. So when we’re talking about a performance evaluation, one definition is the process of reviewing how well employees perform their duties during a specified period of time. And of course the evaluation is just one piece of the overall performance management process. It’s often done annually. [00:04:00] We’ll talk about different frequencies. But it’s going to document the employee’s performance goals, objectives as well as their development goals. And then you’re going to assess performance for the prior review period and set objectives for the period going forward.

Then, so we’ll take a little brief detour and talk about coaching for just a second. So while we’re really focused on performance evaluations today, I do want to touch on this just briefly because it’s so closely related and I’m going to reference coaching from time to time throughout the webinar. [00:04:30] So as you see here, when coaching is a management style, encourages employee development and growth, I hear a lot coaching getting used as a generic term about giving employees performance feedback and often when things aren’t going well. So I hear it getting used that way. But that’s not how I’m using the term. For the purposes of this webinar, I’m talking about a management style and one that really intentionally encourages employee development and growth. So we’ll come back to this and touch on [00:05:00] coaching briefly again after we talk about performance evaluations.

Okay. So we’re looking at the purpose and the key overall purpose of a performance evaluation process. Really, your goal is aligning individual employee goals with departmental and company goals. And so performance evaluations, they provide feedback, they set clear expectations and a well-structured performance review process. It’s going to link what an employee is doing day to day [00:05:30] with the company’s strategy. And so performance evaluations, they give employees positive performance feedback. They give recognition for accomplishments during the prior review period. They also give a venue to discuss career development and future goals, any needed areas of improvement. And then finally, generally the performance evaluation is going to be some component of determining and justifying whether or not the employee is getting a compensation increase. And so I’m [00:06:00] going to go into more detail on each of these points during our time together.

Okay. So on this slide you see a diagram of a typical performance management cycle. So ultimately the goal of the cycle is to ensure that you’ve got highly performing organization because you’re maintaining or you’re continually improving your individual performance. And again, the performance eval is just one piece of the process. So the first step you see here is performance planning. And [00:06:30] so that’s where the employee and so supervisor collaborate, they develop a performance plan, detailing goals and objectives for the coming review period. At that time, you can also make sure that you’re both on the same page about the employee’s development goals. And then the second step is where the employee is doing their job. They’re ongoing work and throughout the cycle working towards goals and the manager is monitoring that throughout the whole review period. And I think this [00:07:00] visual might mislead you a bit.

It’s why we have this two section highlighted because I think it looks like this step carries equal weight with the others, but really this is actually where you spend the most time throughout the year. And then it’s just critical of course that there’s ongoing manager feedback and support. So that helps improve performance, but also just makes sure that there’s no surprises when that evaluation rolls around. Okay, so the next step here is the performance assessment. So you’re going to [00:07:30] assess your employee based on how well they completed their goals and their objective job related criteria that define their behavioral expectations. And I’ll talk more about that piece in just a bit. And then the formal performance review, the last sec section here, number four is created based on assessment of how well the employee completed goals and evaluation evaluating their performance and core competencies. And then of course the cycle just begins again. So [00:08:00] again, I think I might belabor this point a little bit, but I do think it is really important just to stress that throughout that entire cycle there should be both performance feedback and support.

Okay, so we’re going to talk a bit more about creating a performance evaluation now and the whole process and then the various components to include. So the first thing you’ll do is determine how often [00:08:30] you want to have a formal performance evaluation. So it’s not uncommon, still pretty common to have annual performance review cycles. So in other words, employees are getting a formal written review once a year. And then over the years we’ve also been seeing companies move towards more frequent evaluations such as quarterly or twice a year. And that just reflects of course, business needs change quickly. If you’re doing more frequent evaluations, that allows you to recalibrate performance goals just as workplace [00:09:00] needs require. You can have midyear course corrections in a formal way if needed. And then it just also makes sure regular performance check-ins are happening more than just once a year because they’re required by the process.

And then if you’re doing more formal or more frequent formal evaluations, that also means that all those conversations aren’t tied all of them to salary. And in theory, that helps you have more meaningful data. And so just with all that said, I know maybe [00:09:30] many small employers don’t have a formal performance management process. If that’s where you’re at, if your company is there and then simply implementing an annual review process, that might be plenty to start out with and that’s just fine. And then another thing that we see not uncommon at all with small businesses is that maybe there is an annual process in place, but the reviews aren’t getting done on time, it’s not happening regularly. And so if you’re trying to do more frequent process, that’s probably [00:10:00] going to just be overwhelming and maybe not so effective. So whatever frequency you choose, it’s just important that you are implementing a process that can be maintained and that’s sustainable.

And one thing that really helps is having some type of software that automates the process because that does help it feel less burdensome. And so again, regardless of frequency of the formal cycle, it’s just important to set expectations that managers are having regular informal one-on-one check-ins [00:10:30] outside of that. And I’ve seen some businesses, they tried that quarterly review cycle and then they just decide to switch back to annual or maybe twice yearly and supplement the formal reviews with those ongoing informal one-on-ones. And I think that that works really well for a lot of people, and particularly again, where you’ve got that software that’s helping you track scheduling and notes from those lightweight, informal check-ins.

Okay, so let’s talk a bit about the type of things that you typically find in a performance [00:11:00] evaluation. So common pieces you see here, we’ve got a manager review or a self-assessment, also known as a self review, then goal setting for the upcoming period. And sometimes reviews contain some informal coworker input, but there’s some caveats to that and I’ll talk that over in just a bit. As far as format goes, there’s not really one perfect answer on what a performance review should look like. You need to figure out what works well for [00:11:30] your company because you’re going to find tons of different opinions out there. One pointer that I’ll give is, really try to keep it as brief as possible. When I started in HR eons ago, there was these really long form paper processes, really long, like 15, 20 pages sometimes. Everyone hated those. And I think it was part of the push towards much shorter, easier, more lightweight processes. Keeping it short and simple, having that software to automate it can really [00:12:00] help your success.

Okay. So switching to the things that are going to go in the manager’s portion of the review, they often but not always, include competency ratings. And so a performance competency, typically we’re talking about a defined set of behaviors that the company has determined are important. So in other words, you can think of the performance objectives on the performance plan. You can think about the job descriptions, the what of [00:12:30] the job. While performance competencies, you can think of how of the job or how the job should be getting done. And so competencies are the behavioral characteristics, again, that companies determine impact results. Some might be measured company-wide, others might be measured within departments or just for certain roles.

We’ve got some general examples here on this slide. Communication, teamwork, leadership, pretty general ones. You could have competencies around [00:13:00] things like operational efficiency or relationship building, anything that’s critical to success. Narrowing it down if you’re using them to a short list of well-defined critical competencies is really going to help keep your system simple. And generally if you’re using competencies, there’s some rating scale measuring how well the person demonstrates those competencies. You can see some examples here on this slide, but I generally recommend keeping those rating scales limited [00:13:30] to a scale of five or fewer options. I just don’t really think you get a lot of value out of having a 10 point versus a five point scale. And then if you are using ratings, it’s just important to make sure that you’ve got your levels defined and that managers are really trained to understand what performance at each level looks like so that we’ve got consistent application.

Okay. So key part of the manager review is going to be documenting how well the employee [00:14:00] completed their goals from the last cycle. So fundamental part of it. And then of course in this part you’re going to want to capture feedback for specific projects, the employee completed any achievements during that time. General feedback about employee performance will go here. And in this section it’s important to honestly assess performance and not sugarcoat that written evaluation. Maybe that sounds obvious, but it’s not that uncommon that we hear something about a client, ” [00:14:30] Okay, we want to terminate this poor performer.” But then when you ask about the reviews, well, they’ve got these really positive reviews on file. So if that’s a case, having only positive documentation, that’s not really an honest assessment that doesn’t help the employee develop and could hurt the company later in the event that you did need to move towards termination.
But on the other hand, of course, we don’t want to invent something for the employee to improve if we don’t have concerns. [00:15:00] So again, honesty is important here. Nothing in this manager review should come as a total surprise. Really the goal here should be no surprises. And again, that’s where that ongoing feedback and coaching throughout the whole performance management cycle helps.

Okay, so let’s talk about the self-assessment. Not always included, but a common review component. So the purpose of the self-review is where employees, they take a critical look at their performance, [00:15:30] they’re filling out a piece of the evaluation and reviewing how they think they did over the review period. So in many cases that’s going to mirror the manager’s assessment, but the self-review is a really great tool to alert you for any areas where you and your employee aren’t aligned. And the self-review can also help you make sure that you’re not missing anything. So sometimes managers are far removed from the employee’s work, and so this helps you make sure you’re not missing accomplishments. And then [00:16:00] ultimately, self-reviews also help the performance review process to be more participatory by giving the employee a voice in what’s documented about their performance.

So sometimes self-reviews include ratings similar to what we talked about with the manager review, but it’s also not uncommon to see employers removing ratings from the employee section and only having narrative questions. You may find having the employees rate themselves. It may or may not be a useful exercise. It all really depends on whether [00:16:30] they’re honestly rating themselves. And sometimes you get folks who grade themselves really difficult or too easy, too hard on themselves. So if you do include ratings, it’s just important to ensure that you’re given some guidelines about what each rating looks like in practice.

Okay, so let’s switch a bit to talk about coworker assessment. And this is something is maybe less common, may or may not be included in an annual review. And I’ll [00:17:00] just say from the start, my take on this, in most cases I’m not a huge fan of informal coworker data and performance reviews. And so sometimes you hear people use the term like 360 review or 360 and what they’re doing, they’re using it to describe informally gathering coworker input as part of the review. But True 360, that’s really a tool best used for development and typically isn’t related to the performance appraisal process. [00:17:30] With a True 360, those are usually done by a third party outside company who makes sure there’s enough respondents that keep that data confidential and help the employee process and learn from the input.

So I think that there can be advantages to collecting informal coworker input, but I would just caution that the use of that in performance ratings, because a lot of times there’s just a lack of a reliable and valid data and it can be easy to just make mistakes in this case. And so [00:18:00] coworker input, while it can give you broader input just than what you see as a direct supervisor, it can be useful to see how the employees perceived by others, but a lot of times we just don’t have any context to who’s giving the comments. And people that are giving input might not really understand the employees jobs or comments, unfortunately sometimes are motivated by office politics, which is not a great scenario. And then oftentimes of course we don’t have enough people to keep that [00:18:30] data anonymous and that causes reviewers just to be really cautious about giving constructive feedback.

In the worst case scenario too, folks might determine who said what an attempt to retaliate against folks who gave constructive criticism. I think that’s probably hopefully the outlier situation, but I have unfortunately seen that happen. And so that is the worst thing that might happen using this system. And at the end of the day too, this just adds more administrative burden [00:19:00] and it makes it more time-consuming. So I think to make informal coworkers’ assessment successful, we really need to have a strong culture of communication and trust at the organization. So my preferred approach is to use an outside vendor, do a formal 360 as part of the development process, but you can make this informal coworker assessment work if you’re careful with it.

Okay, so let’s switch gears a bit. Let’s talk about goal setting. [00:19:30] So of course during the review you’ll generally want to do some goal setting, have discussion about professional development. That’s going to be part of that performance planning for the upcoming review cycle. Okay. So on this slide you can see how the employee’s objectives, they ultimately relate back to company and departmental priorities. So of course we want to make sure that the employee’s goals are relevant to company goals and direction and not just what the employee wants to do. [00:20:00] So it’s important that you’ve got a process to make sure goals are agreed upon by both the employee and the manager and linking back to department and organizational goals.

So we’ll talk a bit about SMART goals. This is one format of goal setting to create goals. And you may have heard this one, sometimes we get different letters standing for different things, but we’ll say here, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, [00:20:30] and time-based. So there are different formats out there for creating objectives, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure we have a measurable format.

SMART goals are really common. So with the SMART goals, with the specific, with the S, we want to include the who, the what, the where, when, and why, and it can be really useful there to use action verbs. When we get to the M or the measurable part, you want to think really about what observable data is going to tell you if the goal is achieved, how will you know when it comes about [00:21:00] to review time, whether they did this thing or not. The A, so is the goal attainable within existing resources? Is it within the employee’s control and influence? And then with the R or relevant, you want to just again, make sure that the goal contributes to company goals. And then T is time-based, so we want to make sure we’ve got some target completion dates, maybe some milestones, things like that.

[00:21:30] Okay. So here on the slide you see some examples of things stated as SMART goals and then things that are not stated as SMART goals. And I’ve seen just tons of performance reviews over the years and I don’t know, it’s still sometimes is surprising how few of them really have SMART goals on the first draft. It’s really easy to create things that maybe look like a SMART goal on the surface, but when you actually look at it, you’re like, “Wait, I can’t actually measure this thing.” And so the importance of SMART goals is to help ensure just that you can measure whether the employee succeed in meeting [00:22:00] expectations when you’re going to review performance.

And so just by way of example, we have this last example here about delegation. If an employee is having issues with time management, you have a statement something like Jane should delegate more of her tasks, it’s not going to be a SMART goal because you’re not going to be able to measure whether or not that happened. But if you say something more like in the next review period, Jane should delegate at least five of her responsibilities to her team members.

[00:22:30] You’ve got more of a timeframe, there’s more specifics, presumably that’s attainable, and then it’s also going to be measurable as to whether or not it happened.
Okay. So for this slide, you might be wondering here why we’ve got this picture of an elephant on this slide. We’re talking about goals, but I’m going to ask you just not to think about that for a second. We’re going to talk about positively stated goals. With a coaching style of management, it’s really important to state goals in the positive. So what happens when the goal is [00:23:00] stated in the negative? So when I say, “Hey, don’t think about that elephant.” Is it easy to do? Or the tendency is to be like, “Think about the thing you’re not supposed to.” So we tend to get what we focus on. And when we have goals stated in the negative, and it’s very, very common to do this, but I really truly believe from a coaching style management, the positive goals this are so important because if you’re stating goals negatively, they can just become [00:23:30] self-fulfilling prophecies.

And so if you’re saying for example, you must not continue to miss your sales goals or you shouldn’t be falling behind on sales goals, all the focus is on not meeting the goals. But if instead you say, just meet or exceed Q1 sales targets, you’re planting the seeds that you have the confidence and you believe it’s possible that the employee can meet those goals. And it’s subtle, but I really do believe that this is important.

[00:24:00] Okay. So wrapping up the section on performance evaluations, let’s talk a bit about the performance review meeting and follow up and then we’ll go into talking about feedback. All right, so let’s talk briefly about the timing of the evaluation. So we talked about typically if you have a self review, the employee’s got forms to fill out, manager has sections to complete. So some processes kick off with pre-work, the manager’s getting the employee self review first, or sometimes manager employee exchange forms at [00:24:30] the same time.

But in any case, I think it’s good to have the employee receive the manager’s written assessment prior to the meeting. The reason for that is it just helps the employees process that information, any emotions ahead of time and have a better idea of what to expect. Not required to do that, but I think that that can really help. And then, you just want to make sure to have a successful meeting that you’re prepared, you’ve got a comfortable environment, if you’re working remotely, probably a video [00:25:00] conference, but if you’re in person, just make sure you’re in a comfortable room and a comfortable place to have that conversation.

Okay. So before you go into that meeting, you just want to think about your approach and what you want to talk about. Be prepared to talk with the employee about the things and the behaviors you want them to stop, to start, to continue. And in terms of the actual meeting, so it can be common that we get [00:25:30] this conversation going with a feedback sandwich or compliment sandwich if you’ve heard of that. So in other words, you give some positive information and you give some constructive information or more critical information and then you end on a positive note. So that was technique, it was taught all along the way. Lots of people have been taught that technique, but it’s really fallen out of favor because I think that it can be demotivating to top performers and falsely encouraged folks who aren’t actually performing very well.

And so for the review, I think [00:26:00] it’s better to really look at overall performance, pick where you want to focus. If the folks are generally doing really well, you want to start with your positive impact and positive input, talking about strengths, and then use coaching after you’ve discussed the strengths and achievements. And you can ask the employee open-ended questions about how they think things are going. That helps elicit an honest conversation about what’s going well, what might be able to go better. [00:26:30] And it also helps, you have a discussion and not monopolize the conversation. So I know it can be challenging, but if you do have poor performers, and particularly in a case where you have folks that you really have tried, you’ve really done a lot of coaching, possibly even corrective action, in that case it’s important not to sugarcoat the review and that’s going to be the opportunity to impress upon the employee, the importance that there’s improvement.

[00:27:00] So lastly, you’ll just update and finalize paperwork related to the review and short shirts stored in the employee file. Find most of the time if we’re using some software that that’s automated for you, which is great, and then you’ll just confirm your following up on any action items and make sure that those frequent informal check-ins are happening. And again, those check-ins don’t need to be formal, but they help really ensure everybody’s on the same page and that you’re coaching where needed and readjusting [00:27:30] goals if needed. Okay, so switching over from evaluation to talking about the general process of delivering feedback throughout the entire performance management cycle.

So I’m including the slide again just to reinforce the importance of that ongoing manager support and feedback throughout the year. So I know that I might be belaboring this point, but it’s not uncommon that [00:28:00] you hear employees say, “Well, the only time I get really good feedback is during that formal review.” And of course that just doesn’t really set anybody up for success. So I think it’s probably equally, if not really more important to have those ongoing informal check-ins in the moment or throughout.

Okay. So yeah, it’s really common, I’ve had this experience and my colleagues have had this experience. You talk to a manager and they’re really frustrated with the employee’s performance and [00:28:30] maybe they’re asking about terminating the employee. And then usually I’ll ask, “Well, what’s the employee’s perspective?” Or, “Have you heard the employee’s perspective?” And many times, and I think particularly when we’re talking about newer managers, a lot of times they haven’t actually talked to the employee.

Even cases where we’ve got an issue that’s been going on for weeks or even months sometimes. And so I think that a little analogy is useful here. If you think for time you’re singing [00:29:00] humming a song or singing it out loud and you ask somebody, “Hey, what’s the name of that song I’ve stuck in my head?” And they’re looking at you blankly. And when you’re the one singing, you hear all the instruments, you hear backup vocals in your head, you hear harmony, but that other person just hears your piece of it. And I don’t know if you’re like me, maybe it’s not in tune or maybe in the wrong words. But the listener doesn’t have a full picture of all that the harmony, the accompaniment that the instruments, how it all goes together. So this I’m just using as a metaphor [00:29:30] for what happens with employee communication and expectation setting.

So it’s common that managers making assumptions employees know what’s going on in their head. I think we all do this no matter how experienced of a manager you are, it can be easy to do that. And I think that that can be just a common communication misstep. And so in that case, employees, many times they would say, always of course, but they’re doing what they think is best. And so if they’re not getting [00:30:00] guidance or clarification or direction, they’re just figuring it out on their own.
And a lot of times performance problems exist just because the employee doesn’t know what they’re doing is not what is desirable. And then another misstep here is not telling the employee how they’re doing. So of course in this case, no news is not good news. Employees really do want and need to know how they’re doing. Some employees need more input than others and it does apply to both positive and corrective feedback. [00:30:30] And then finally, a lot of times managers don’t share important information. And I think really to maximize engagement, you can think of your employees as partners in communication, you’re sharing information about the organization’s strategy, team goals, objectives, results and such. Of course there’s going to be times for confidentiality and discretion, but generally speaking, I think if you’re keeping organizational and team information too closely held that that can lead to just less than ideal results.

[00:31:00] Okay, so talking about feedback, if you’re like many managers, you just really maybe cringe when you think about giving feedback or negative connotations with that word feedback. In this case picture here, we’ve got the guitar too close to the amp, we get that feedback, another musical reference, really cringey. So a lot of people really just don’t even like the word feedback and avoid it, avoid giving it. [00:31:30] So we’ll start with a basic definition of feedback. Bear with me when I take a sip of tea because I’m getting a little hoarse.

Okay. So starting with a basic definition of feedback, it’s really important or recognize that the intent of feedback is to provide information for employee growth and improvement. It helps ensure the employee knows what they’re doing well and when they’re doing something that’s getting in the way. So we have two main [00:32:00] buckets of feedback. Praise is positive feedback. And when this is done well, it really affirms the employee’s strengths and the behaviors you want to reinforce.
And then as I think I’ve already mentioned before, a lot of times people first think of that corrective feedback or particularly like negative feedback if you’re putting it in that lens. So suggestions for improvement, exploration of new and better ways to do things or pointing out something done less than optimally. So that’s the feedback that people usually avoid giving. [00:32:30] And so what I’m going to do is help give you some structure and tips on how to provide both positive and corrective feedback. And it really does get easier with practice. Also help you have some ways to help the employee come to their own conclusions about performance, which ultimately limits the need for you to give some of that more corrective feedback.

Okay. So let’s take a little brief detour talking about neuroscience and feedback. So we look at some of the more [00:33:00] recent research around feedback and neuroscience. It tells us why we avoid feedback. So essentially having to give or receive feedback, that can elicit the social threat response in the brain. So while we no longer have to fend off predators in the wild, our body can sometimes react similarly to feedback like it might to coming up on a tiger in the jungle. So there was just a large social component to survival in the wild and way back when our ancestors could be faced with being alone [00:33:30] in the wild if they were evicted from the group. So we don’t have to completely understand the science or the neuroscience, but it can be useful to just know that there’s a reason that when giving feedback, we tend to be artificially nice, we tend to want to be positive.

And so when the body’s threat response is activated, it actually makes it really tough to take in and digest that feedback that’s being given. If people are feeling threatened, they can shut down when they receive negative feedback [00:34:00] that wasn’t asked for. And both the giver and receiver of feedback can experience a stress response when giving feedback. So an important key to effective feedback is to help minimize that threat response. And one way to do it is to have coaching conversations. And these use open-ended questions instead of giving direct feedback. So that helps put the employee in the driver’s seat by facilitating them coming to conclusions about what’s come well and what could go better. [00:34:30] So what that means is then their brain is in a more receptive state to receive feedback after engaging in that conversation.

So quickly, returning again to this concept of coaching style of management. When you’re with coaching style, you’re focusing on helping employees fulfill immediate responsibilities more effectively, advancing the development over time. And as I’ve alluded to, a key component of coaching style is this use of open-ended questions. So in other words, [00:35:00] questions that cannot be answered by yes or no. And I deliver entire webinars, half day trainings on coaching. So we’re just taking a little quick peek today. But I think for our purposes here, it’s worth noting that when you use open-ended questions regarding a recently completed task, it often results in that employee just really, you not having to give the feedback, the self give the feedback where you have a more open discussion. And so I think that we can really get [00:35:30] caught up in our heads. It’s easy to do about thinking, “Oh, giving feedback is tough.” But if you start with just a simple question like, “Well, how do you think that went?”

A lot of times actually it just has a very fruitful conversation and you can avoid what you might otherwise have thought of as a difficult conversation. And then I think before giving corrective feedback, a lot of times it’s really useful to seek more information because sometimes you are going to hear something that [00:36:00] really changes the feedback you were planning to give. So I highly recommend asking some open-ended questions like these second and third bullets you see here before giving feedback. Because that again really helps open up the conversation and helps you make sure you’re understanding the other person’s perspective.

Okay. So next couple slides I’m going to quickly cover how your mindset impacts your employee’s performance. And so you may have heard of fixed mindset, growth mindset, this idea. [00:36:30] In a nutshell, there’s two types of mindsets. The growth mindset is one where you assume your employees can learn and improve, versus the contrast to that is a fixed mindset, where you have the belief that a person’s intelligence and ability is fixed and unchangeable. And so we don’t exclusively have a growth or a fixed mindset and we might be more prone to using one growth or fixed mindset in some areas over others.

So [00:37:00] we’ll cover fixed mindset first, and I’ll give you a couple of seconds to check out some of the examples here on this slide. And so if you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “Gosh, my employee, ugh, they’re never going to be able to accomplish this task,” or, “she just doesn’t get it.” Then you were thinking with a fixed mindset. And so again, that’s the belief that a person won’t make progress. And don’t be hard on yourself if you find yourself doing this because I think we all do this at one [00:37:30] time or another. But it’s important to keep in mind that when you’re operating from this place of more low expectations or fixed mindset, it can severely limit your ability to support an employee’s development. So occasionally we have people who are unable to develop, maybe more likely unwilling to develop, but a lot of times the actual barrier can be the manager’s belief that the person isn’t going to make progress.

And so if you’re operating from a fixed mindset, it can create a competitive environment, [00:38:00] it can lead you to not delegate, do things your team members could do or give answers instead of allowing employees to learn by doing. And again, can result in those self-fulfilling prophecies about the employee not being successful.
So in contrast, when you adopt a growth mindset, you focus your feedback both your positive and your corrective feedback on the person’s efforts to achieve their goals and so not on their inherent abilities. And so in that case, when employees misstep, you’re going to focus on [00:38:30] learning from the experience and understanding where doing something differently could have resulted in success. And feedback is a developmental focus. Instead of just evaluating how well the job was done, you’re focusing on developing the employee skills even more for the future. So you can contrast the examples here on this slide to the ones in the previous slide where we say things like, “Well, it didn’t turn out how we hoped, but gosh, it’s just a great learning opportunity,” for example. Or, “Gosh, my employee [00:39:00] is just a lot more confident than six months ago, still some room to grow.” And I think there’s just such a different feel to them. For me personally, it really feels better to operate from a growth mindset and in my experience it can really have a positive impact on team engagement and your organizational culture.

Okay. So here’s a couple ways to shift the growth mindset specifically to feedback. And so first, you generally want to assume a positive [00:39:30] intent. Maybe neutral intent, just not a negative intent. And this means you’re acting under the assumption the other person is trustworthy. They also want to have positive outcomes for the organization. And when you do that, it’s going to change your mood, it’s going to change your body language and it’s going to have more collaborative interactions. And if you start from a place of negative assumptions about something. And then it’s just important to recognize folks can change their behavior, people [00:40:00] are not locked into their current way of doing things or their current skill level. That’s really key when we’re talking about growth mindset.

So growth mindset just means having that view, that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work and they’re not fixed. And that view can really help create a love of learning. And then when you’re giving feedback, it’s critical to recognize just we all have our own personal biases and about how things should be done. But if you focus too much on just how you like to [00:40:30] do things, that can be limiting and just recognizing there’s a lot of different paths to get to the same place, the same positive outcome. And then I think I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it’s an important point, instead of focusing on the negative and viewing things like mistakes or failures, with growth mindset, you’re looking at lessons learned and how you can positively impact a future situation. And then we can apply growth mindset to feedback as well. So most people do experience some discomfort about giving feedback [00:41:00] and it really is something that everybody can learn and improve with practice.

Okay. So now I’m going to give you a framework for how to deliver feedback and this is the SBI feedback model. So the SBI model was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, CCL. And with a bit of practice, this method can really help you get more comfortable with feedback. So we’ll drill down into this in the next couple slides, but the overall thing with SBI feedback, so we’ve got [00:41:30] situation behavior impact is the way that your feedback falls. So situation, you first describe the context. So you’re putting your feedback in context by describing the situation. So where and when did whatever thing you’re giving feedback about happen? And then behavior is simple. You’re going to describe the employee’s behavior that you observed. And then impact, you’re going to describe the impact of the behavior. So what was the result [00:42:00] of the employee’s behavior?

So here’s an example on this slide illustrating the SBI feedback. So this case presumably we’ve got someone who has just read a report from one of their direct reports and they say, “I’ve just read the report you sent. It was well researched, I liked you backed everything up with data, particularly those things that might have been seen as controversial and your points were really thought-provoking. I’m motivated to consider how we can implement these ideas at the company.” So I am specifically first [00:42:30] using an example about praise because, again, we all can, I think, fall into this trap about thinking about feedback as corrective feedback and that is very important too. But I think that it’s really important to be just as specific when reinforcing positive behaviors because it’s going to be a lot more effective than just being like, “Hey, that was such a great report.”

Okay. So drilling down into each bit of this. So with the situation, you want to be specific about when and where the situation [00:43:00] took place. So in this particular example this morning at the Jones client meeting. It’s important not to use generalities like always or never, that’s usually not true. And those words can tend to make employees feel defensive or shut down. And then sometimes when you’re delivering feedback in the moment, the situation is implicit and you don’t have to actually state it. So ideally, feedback is happening that close in time as possible, but that’s not always the case. But in that case [00:43:30] you may not actually need to really belabor the situation part of it. Then we go into behavior. And so this is where you’re going to describe specific behavior that you observed and you don’t want to speak in generalities that are judging the person.

You don’t want to say things like, “Hey, that behavior was unprofessional,” or, “You’re really innovative,” because those aren’t actionable and they don’t tell us much. So you want to give specifics without attaching judgment, [00:44:00] interpretation or opinions to it. And you don’t want to make guesses at or assume you know the employee’s motivation or intent.

And I think that step can be sometimes, I know I said earlier it was simple, but I think it can be the hardest one to get right. It sounds simple, but I think that employees are really more likely to take in feedback that’s delivered in an objective way and which doesn’t attack them personally. You can think of a colleague of mine says, one way to [00:44:30] think about this is just only include that which a video camera would pick up. An example, one time I talked to a manager and they just kept saying that their employee was insubordinate, they were unprofessional and it was not really clear what was going on. So I was like, “Well, what specifically did they do to make you use those words?” And they gave a bunch of very specific things. “Well, they use profanity when talking to the boss’s boss.” And faced with a very poor corporate audit, they said, “Oh, well, I might get around to fixing those issues.” So [00:45:00] my point is that when you repeat the observed behaviors it’s in a neutral way, it results in much better feedback.

Okay. And then final step is describing the impact of the behavior. So what are the positive or negative consequences of the employee’s actions could be to the organization, to the department, to coworkers? Maybe even how the behavior made you feel. And so here’s an example, not [00:45:30] in SBI feedback. So you did a great job dealing with that angry customer last week. You’re so good with customers. So it’s common that we see praised to delivered something like this, but it’s not really actionable and not even necessarily motivating. And so some other things that make this praise, this particular example ineffective is it’s after the fact because the thing happened last week. And then it also attributes success to being good with customers. So that’s more like a fixed characteristic [00:46:00] versus the use of observed specific behaviors. Those can be learned and improved upon. And in this case, even though it looks on the surface like praise, the receiver of this feedback doesn’t really understand what she did well and what she should repeat. Whereas if we look at that same situation using the SBI model with positive feedback, it might be something like, okay, you remain calm while talking to that angry customer. You really listened to their concerns and you gave several options [00:46:30] for resolution. Your approach deescalated the situation enabled us to avoid losing that account. So that’s just a lot more effective feedback as to what the employee did well.

Okay, so here’s an example of ineffective corrective feedback. What was going on with you at that client meeting? So I get that you’ve been really busy focusing on other projects, but gosh, you were completely unprepared today and gave incorrect information to the client. [00:47:00] So hopefully we’re not in the habit of giving this corrective feedback and particularly if it’s delivered in front of someone else. But yeah, it happens and maybe if your wit’s end or something like that. But in any case, in this case, the delivered feedback is attempting to make excuses for behavior and guessing at the underlying reasons, attaching some judgments and interpretation and their opinions. And so if you label the person as unprepared, it’s a judgment, it [00:47:30] can cause defensiveness, but also there’s just no specifics about what the real concerns are.

So here’s the same situation, we’ve got more specific feedback here. So in this case, at the meeting with the client this morning, you have slides included information from another client’s project and that caused a great deal of confusion. And so I’m concerned that this client’s lost confidence in us and we’re going to need to rebuild trust to maintain the account. So again, in this case, there’s a lot more [00:48:00] actionable feedback and it’s stated neutrally. And what I would like to point out here is instead of moving right to feedback using the SBI model, while that’s perfectly a valid way of doing it, you could also just start with a coaching question instead. So you could just start here saying something, “Well, how do you think the meeting went this morning?” So it’s really possible in this case that the employee really does know the things that didn’t go well and you can just have a much more open conversation about it. But [00:48:30] if that doesn’t work or they’re like, “Ph, I don’t know, I think it was okay,” then you can go into the specific feedback.

All right, so to sum up our SBI feedback model, once you’ve covered the situation, the behavior and the impact, you’ll want to check for the employee’s perspective. So it’s always important to ensure that you’ve considered their side of things. That helps just make sure that we’re not making any assumptions. It can avoid damaging relationships [00:49:00] if there’s just a reasonable explanation for why whatever the situation was happened. And then finally, you can clarify your expectations for what the employee needs to do next. With corrective situations, you can document those conversations in writing if needed. With positive system situations, it’s your opportunity to really help employees think about how they can build on that success.

And just one final comment about the SBI model. [00:49:30] Occasionally I hear folks say, “Well gosh, this SBI model, that’s great, but it sounds formulaic or it feels a little stilted.” And I think that’s completely understandable and I think that when you… So I think it’s important to put things in your own words when you’re giving examples about scenarios. They may sound a little stilted. But when you’re putting it in your way, you normally speak in your own words, when you practice it just gets more and more natural. And I do really think [00:50:00] that it’s a useful format.

All right, so before we move over into the Q&A section, I’m going to close out with a couple tips on feedback. All right, so here’s a couple examples of how to own your own role and feedback and what this does when we do this and frame things this way, it really helps show that the feedback’s coming through your lens. It can help people really receive feedback [00:50:30] better. And so the first one here we have, can I give you some feedback? Versus, okay, here’s my reaction. And the can I give you some feedback, it’s not uncommon to hear that you should ask to give feedback. That has been taught over the years, that as one approach to ask for permission. So it’s not necessarily a wrong approach, but sometimes it can provide the threat response that we talked about earlier. So an alternative is just [00:51:00] to state the feedback in terms of your reaction to the particular situation.

So if you start, again, by just saying something like, “Okay, well, here was my reaction to the meeting,” and then spell it out. And then again, when we have the great job, I think great job is so common and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but a lot of times it comes out as a bit fake or it comes out or maybe insincere and it’s just not actionable. [00:51:30] You might get quick recognition hit, but you’re not really reinforcing behaviors versus saying, “Okay, here’s what really worked for me about this. I really like this part or this thing.” That’s giving much more useful and actionable feedback to the person.

And then, so on this third example here, we’ve got, “Oh, you need to improve your communication skills.” So let’s say that this is about an example of a presentation or report. We’ve seen those kinds of examples already. [00:52:00] And so instead of telling the employee they need to improve communication skills, that can cause defensiveness. It may or may not be the case. You just simply name that you got lost in a particular section. And so you could say, “Well, okay, well the section that you were talking about here, I got a little bit lost and I was a bit confused about how this slide linked to that one,” or whatever it was. And so that’s stating your feedback in the eye of the SBI model [00:52:30] there.

And then this last example, generally, that was the wrong approach. There may be times where yes, something was truly the wrong approach, but a lot of times there’s going to be a lot of different perspectives. And so you can just say, “Well, when you did this happened,” or, “I felt this,” depending on the situation of what it is.
Okay. So last couple pointers as we’re wrapping up here. So [00:53:00] ideally, you’re providing specific and actionable positive feedback often and that type of feedback, the positive praise, it can be really effective in public because it also serves as recognition for somebody who’s done a job well. But corrective feedback almost always is better done in private.

And you’ll see different recommended ratios out there of how much positive corrective feedback you should give. And I don’t know, to me like [00:53:30] a specific ratio isn’t actually that useful or helpful. But I do think you want to make sure that you’re providing consistent affirmation and praise and that really helps build on employees strengths. It does not mean avoiding corrective feedback. That does not mean doing that feedback sandwich thing that we talked about earlier, the compliment sandwich. But just rather that you’re not only giving corrective feedback without recognizing the things that are going well. With most employees, that’s going to be the case unless [00:54:00] you have a really serious performance issue.

Okay. So I know that we covered quite a bit today. The last slide here before I go into Q&A, I’m going to leave you with this quote. So the quote is, if you truly embrace a growth mindset, you never have to have a difficult conversation. You’re just having a series of conversations, you’re doing them in a way that is authentic and humanistic and growth oriented, and [00:54:30] you never get to the point where you’re so frustrated that’s a difficult conversation. And so I just really love this because I think it incorporates so many key concepts related to performance management. If you’re having those informal with your employees, you’re approaching them with the growth mindset and the view that your role is to help the employee improve and develop, then really there shouldn’t be surprises or difficult conversations when review time rules around.

[00:55:00] Okay. So let me just take a minute here and look and see what questions we’ve got. So let go into the questions part. Give just a second.
So [00:55:30] I do see the question about the person wasn’t able to join from the beginning. Yes, there will be a recording sent out. And then we’ve got a question that growth often involves learning and learning [00:56:00] often requires outside training. And how do you incorporate outside training into the 40-hour work week when that training time will infect the employee’s current workload? And do you suggest the employee pursue training after hours?

Yeah, it’s a good question. Yeah, I know that it can feel like training is just one more thing. I think that this is not necessarily the one perfect one-size-fits-all answer depends on what type of [00:56:30] employees we’re talking about. If we have non-exempt employees, there may be some concerns about paying for that training time outside of that 40-hour work week. And then for exempt employees, I would also say, there’s some concerns about overload or burden. So I think that generally speaking, it can be very nice to incorporate the training time into their workload, their regular workload. [00:57:00] But I know this is like a vague non-answer, but I really do just think this is situation specific on that one.

But I think that depending on the training, I do think sometimes people actually are motivated by it and really enjoy doing training or might not mind doing training outside of work. But people are so different about that, employees are so different about that. Let’s see. What else do we have here?

Okay, [00:57:30] question about reviews being on the anniversary date of the employee’s start date if you’re presumably doing them annually or on a fixed date across the company. Okay, yeah. Excuse me. Yeah, so that’s a good one. And we’ve got pros and cons to both of these, the anniversary date or the fixed date. So the anniversary date, [00:58:00] there’s some good stuff to that because I think from the manager’s standpoint, we spread out the burden and the work of reviews. But what I would say the downside of that one is, is just that the tracking, right? Are these reviews being done? Whoever’s tracking this, gosh, lots of reminders. It’s a little harder to keep it all happening smoothly. So yeah, I guess my personal preference, I tend to favor the fixed data approach [00:58:30] and I’ve done both. I’ve moved a system from that the start date to the fixed date and the move part is not the easy part, but once you move, I think that works pretty well.

And so the fixed date, yeah, managers have to do all those reviews at once, that can feel like a lot of work. But when everybody, the company is doing all that work at the same time, people get it and you can allow for those investments in the planning. [00:59:00] Like the last question we had where you’re just sort of helping build into the workload, some of this time investment for reviews. And when you’re doing them all at once too, I think that it can be much easier to make sure you’re doing performance calibration across departments, ensuring folks are measuring performance consistently as well. So there’s that. Let me double-check and see what other questions we have.

[00:59:30] Yeah, so okay, another good question in here about, what about when an employee isn’t receptive to corrective feedback? So yes, and what I would say is when we get into the specific employee situations, we get really case specific and I tend to dig in and talk about the specifics. And so if you do have our service and the one where you can call and talk to entire HR experts, it’s a great one to troubleshoot on. But generally speaking, I think if you’re starting with coaching and feedback, you’re [01:00:00] hearing the employee side of things and then you can consider did the manager and the company, have you taken steps that make the employee successful? But assuming you’ve got clear expectations, but still the behavior is an improving, then you would typically start the performance improvement process that might involve a performance improvement plan, documenting things that need to change and conditions for success. So we have those types of templates on our platform as well.

All right. [01:00:30] So I guess I’ve gone already a little bit over. Really want to thank everybody for being here today. I think I got to most of the questions, but if I didn’t miss one. If you have our service, again, feel free to give us a call.

And so just reminder, we will e-mail you a PDF, the slides, plus the recording. It’s going to happen about 24 hours, and I would really love it if you complete that post survey poll [01:01:00] and you’ll find that by scrolling down below the video. So I hope you really have a great rest of your day.

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