Feedback: The Christmas Gift That Keeps On Giving

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again…. the annual performance appraisal process. Like them or loathe them – if you are managing other people, the end of year performance appraisal is your formal opportunity to give and receive feedback. Feedback is often described as “the breakfast of champions” and just as world-class athletes rely on their coaches to seek out new ways to help them raise their game so it’s your responsibility as a manager to help your people achieve their personal best. By viewing feedback as a gift that helps the other person improve, you will be well on your way to helping your team get Fit, Agile and Resilient so they can go FAR and achieve the extraordinary in 2019.


How To Give Feedback:


– Be Proactive

As Bill Gates said, “We all need people who give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” However, in my experience, managers can shy away from giving feedback because they don’t want to upset the apple cart or fear the emotional reaction their conversation might provoke. So be brave and front-footed and remember that your goal is to help the other person improve their performance – whether it’s by closing down a blind spot, boosting their confidence or honing their commercial skills. By viewing feedback as a gift – you will reap the rewards of a more engaged and motivated team who are more likely to achieve their commercial personal best.


– Be Balanced

It can be difficult to strike the right balance between praise and constructive feedback. Don’t be tempted to sugarcoat your key messages (they will have enough sweets in their Christmas stocking). Be honest and fair and make sure you get any performance issues out on the table. This way you can give them the guidance and support they need going forward to help them work on their areas for development. However, don’t be the Grinch and only feed back when things are going wrong. Take the time to give praise where praise is due. It’s a human trait to crave recognition and there is nothing better for motivating the other person than praising them for a job well done.


– Be Specific

You only need to look at websites such as Trip-adviser or AIRBNB to recognize the important role feedback plays in our world today. However as these examples show, for feedback to be powerful, it needs to be specific and timely. So avoid general comments such as “You are a good presenter” and instead say, “I was very impressed by the way you engaged the audience and communicated your key points at our last conference.” Your words will carry much more weight if they are rooted in a time and place as the other person will understand the specific behaviour you want to see more of.


– Agree Next Steps

Feedback should be a two-way process, so don’t forget to ask the other person for feedback on you as a manager so that you can agree next steps at the end of the appraisal. By agreeing the “do-differentlies” and putting together a plan of action to help the other person improve their performance, you are making sure they will hit the ground running when they return to the desk after the Christmas Break.


Finally, it’s important to remember that feedback’s for life not just for Christmas! Don’t just save it for the formal annual performance appraisal. You need to be able to do it “live in the moment” in a timely manner so that you can keep you team engaged and motivated throughout the year. By making feedback a part of your daily routine, you will set the other person up for success in 2019 and give them a Christmas gift that keeps on giving.



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