Posts Tagged "feedback’

A Little More Conversation, Please

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Building relationships through conversations, appreciation and feedback is fundamental to the human condition.

Sincere words have a profound impact on a life.With apologies to Elvis, we need a little more conversation. Conversing together, sharing with each other, is a hallmark of what it means to be human. And yet, many of the interactions we have at work are action-oriented, outcome-driven, or meeting-based (and very few meetings in my career have fostered true interpersonal conversations).

If we want to make work more human, we need to facilitate more and better conversations – along the full spectrum of what it means to engage with other humans in a supportive and developmentally relational way. This may not always be easy, but it is simple.

Simply do a little more in these three areas to make your relationships at work more meaningful and more productive.

  1. Talk More – Start building strong relationships by reaching out and talking with others – engaging with them in meaningful ways and, critically, in ways that are meaningful to them. My team just completed a very interesting communications styles profiling and training session in which we each learned our own communication style based on our dominant brain preference. More importantly, we learned how to engage others more effectively by communicating with them based on their dominant brain preference. That’s the essence of both powerful communication as well as powerful connection – approaching from the other perspective first, rather than your own.
  2. Thank More – Once even a tenuous relationship is built through simple communication, step it up by looking for opportunities to sincerely thank the other person for who they are and for what they do. This requires us to pick our heads up out of our own work and busyness to notice more fully those around us, their own busyness, the contributions they are making, and the impacts they are having on ourselves and on others. The need to be seen, to be noticed, to be valued, to be appreciated is also a fundamental human need. Sincerely, specifically and meaningfully saying “thank you” is a great gift to others as well as a sure path to deepen relationships.
  3. Ask More – A strong relational foundation of appreciation also creates a level of trust to ask for feedback on how to grow, learn, develop, and improve. We all have areas where we are strong as well as areas where we can do better. Imperfection is also a part of the human condition. Acknowledging that no one is perfect (and neither am I), gives us the freedom to ask others for the feedback we need. And when we step out first to ask others for feedback, we also give them the psychological safety they need to give us the feedback we need to hear.

Openness with others (and honesty with ourselves) leads to more meaningful relationships. And our relationships with co-workers is one of the strongest drivers of a positive employee experience and to our sense of belonging in an organization. Being more open requires that we talk more, thank more, and ask more.

With whom do you have solid relationships at work? Who do you talk with the most? Who are you most comfortable asking for the perhaps hard-to-hear feedback? And who comes to you when they need to hear the same?

Can You Confidently Answer the 4 Basic Performance Management Questions?

by Derek Irvine

4 Question Marks and ConversationsRecognize This! — Wanting to know we’re doing the right things at work is at the heart of performance management – and that’s a good thing.

With the recent news around Accenture and GE replacing their traditional performance review process with more frequent, timely feedback from multiple sources, it seemed Kismet when Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, had his article “Creating an Effective Peer Review System” appear in Harvard Business Review this week.

Eric shares key elements to create, maintain and support a successful real-time peer review program. Click through for the full article for details on each of the below, including examples from top companies who have applied these lessons. (Quoting below):

  • Reflect on core values. Ensure that the metrics on which people are recognized are aligned with your company’s mission.
  • Embrace new technology. Pick a program that is intuitive, easy to use, fun, interactive, engaging, and fully mobile.
  • Explain and celebrate the launch. Position the program as a change designed to help recognize and celebrate employees, and not a new way to monitor or judge them.
  • Get everyone on board. Managers and leaders need to be early adopters.
  • Encourage frequent, timely recognition. Sooner is better when it comes to promoting desired behavior.
  • Empower managers to track results. Give managers access to detailed, real-time, easily actionable reports on recognition activity, correlated to key business goals.

Performance management is necessary, and even desirable. We all want to know:

  1. Am I doing the right things?
  2. Are my contributions helpful to others?
  3. Should I be focusing elsewhere?
  4. Am I adding value?

Helping employees answer those questions is the essence of performance management. Better yet is how GE frames the discussion in terms of coaching. Per this summary of GE’s new approach:

“There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The [performance development] app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.”

That’s the power of positive reinforcement through coaching people towards more of what you want to see again and away from detractors.

Are you confident in your own answers to the 4 basic performance management questions above?

What GE, Accenture, Adobe and Microsoft Have in Common

by Lynette Silva

Feedback is a conversationRecognize This! – More and more companies are turning a critical eye on the traditional annual performance review process as the primary means for employee feedback.

This month, Derek Irvine (our chief blogger here on Recognize This!) wrote a couple of posts on Compensation Café about decoupling pay from the performance review process. Drawing from the news about Accenture ending the traditional performance review process, Derek sparked a conversation among readers about why we seem to stick to what we know is a challenged process.

Readers chimed in, with comments seeming to focus on the fear factor as the primary reason for preserving the traditional annual performance review as the primary means for employee feedback. That fear appears to be driven largely by:

  • Legal concerns around how to defend performance terminations without the formal review as proof
  • Perceived inability to defend pay for performance decisions without the easy-to-point-to stack ranking of traditional reviews
  • Concern that managers won’t engage in any feedback exercise with employees without the review mechanism to force the issue

And then Quartz published this news story hit late last week that GE – originator of the “rank and yank” stacked performance review process – is ending the annual review, too. The article confirms these assumptions, pointing out:

“As much as researchers and many employees might applaud the decision, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. There’s a reason reviews have stuck around for so long, and it’s hard to overemphasize how entrenched the annual review has become. It’s the way most were raised as employees, a huge part of their workload, and a comfortable framework to administer and to defend pay, promotion, and firing decisions.”

So why is GE changing their performance management approach? Susan Peters, GE’s head of human resources, says:

“It existed in more or less the same form since I started at the company in 1979. But we think over many years it had become more a ritual than moving the company upwards and forwards… The world isn’t really on an annual cycle anymore for anything. I think some of it to be really honest is millennial based. It’s the way millennials are used to working and getting feedback, which is more frequent, faster, mobile-enabled, so there were multiple drivers that said it’s time to make this big change.”

How does this new approach work at GE? The Quartz story explains:

“The new app is called ‘PD@GE’ for ‘performance development at GE.’ … Employees can give or request feedback at any point through a feature called ‘insights,’ which isn’t limited to their immediate manager, or even their division. Normally, you never get that feedback unless you manage to track someone down the next day, which people rarely do, and only from a direct manager. If you wait for an annual review, any specifics are probably long forgotten… There’s an emphasis on coaching throughout, and the tone is unrelentingly positive. The app forces users to categorize feedback in one of two forms: To continue doing something, or to consider changing something.”

This is very interesting. If we want to help our employees achieve their best work, we can no longer kowtow to the fear of lawsuits, pay discussions or poor managerial practices. We must not cater to the lowest common denominator. We must instead look to ways that people best receive and process feedback, both positive and constructive. That’s Eric Mosley’s message in his book The Crowdsourced Performance Review) — we need both the informal and formal, manager-driven and employee-empowered.

Achieving change and refining a deeply embedded if flawed process, is not easy of course. It’s going to take more and more companies not just replacing or revising the traditional review process, but also sharing publicly how they are avoiding or overcoming the perceived fears as GE is now doing.

How are reviews handled in your organization? What are the perceived benefits or detriments to the approach?

SHRM Lessons: Feedback vs. Attention vs. Gratitude

by Lynette Silva

Refuel at Globoforce Booth at SHRMRecognize This! — There’s much difference between feedback, attention and gratitude. All are real needs, but serving different goals.

In surprising news to no one, this week is the SHRM 2015 conference in Las Vegas. In fact, RecognizeThis! founder Derek Irvine (and VP of Client Strategy & Consulting for Globoforce) is speaking there today at 11:30 (for those at SHRM, it’s Mega Session: The Power of “Thanks”: Bringing Workplace Gratitude to the Next Level; Westgate Pavilion 2).

Even though I’m not at SHRM, I’m assiduously following the tweets, blog posts and other reports flowing out of the show. I love this additional insight into some of my favorite bloggers and what they take away as key lessons from such an event. Take, for example, Tim Sackett’s post yesterday – We All Just Want Attention – reporting on Marcus Buckingham’s keynote session. As Tim said:

“The big bomb he dropped on the SHRMies this session was the money-shot quote of the conference: Millennials don’t want feedback! … Those organizations with high engagement are not the ones who are giving more feedback. They are the ones who are paying more attention to their employees.  Yes, there is a difference…

“In reality, Marcus told us the truth.  Millennials, and the rest of us, don’t want feedback, we all want attention. Pay attention to us!  Stop by frequently and see how we are doing, give us some insight to our near future, help us get our jobs done.  But, please, don’t give us feedback on what we are doing wrong!”

I couldn’t agree more. We’ve written about this point of view several times here. It’s one of the topics that drives me a bit batty, actually, when talking about “Millennials at work.” Millennials are just like every other “new to the workplace” generation before them. They cry out for acknowledgement, coaching, insight and development. It’s more “Is this what you wanted to see? Is the work I do valuable? How am I contributing to achieving bigger goals?” and less “give me a gold star.”

But this is necessarily a balancing act. Not all work done by anyone, much less by those new to the field or company, is good all time. Sometimes constructive feedback is necessary. Tim puts it this way:

“Some employees need to be managed to get the most out of them.  They need to be held accountable. I do think there is a balance that we can get to when it comes to paying attention to our employees, like they want, and being able to ‘manage’ them like the business needs.”

It’s that balancing act we’ve got to do better. We’ve let the pendulum swing too far (for too long) to annual performance reviews (or quarterly) that remain too focused on the constructive discussion for acts done too far in the past to be useful to the listener. We must become better at real-time attention and, yes, gratitude and appreciation from multiple sources. We must enable and encourage everyone to assume responsibility for picking our heads up out of our own work and appreciating the work of those around us – even if those excellent efforts demonstrated or achieved by others had no direct bearing on us.

If you’re at SHRM, be sure to check out Derek’s session to learn more about the attention/appreciation/gratitude side of the need for feedback.

Do you get the attention you need at work?

Our “Stickiness” Problem: Retention, Opportunities or Feedback?

by Derek Irvine

Overcoming sharing of feedbackRecognize This! – Employees need more opportunities, more regular conversations on performance, and more frequent recognition to overcome retention challenges.

“People just don’t stick around like they used to.”

How often have you heard that phrase in terms of employee retention goals, usually coupled with statements about “there’s just no loyalty anymore.”

History shows that’s just not true. For the last 25 years, tenure has been consistently low across nearly all age ranges. And the youngest generation in the workplace tends to stay the shortest amount of time (which is not surprising considering where they are in their careers).

Chart showing average tenures over time

More recent data published in the Wall Street Journal shows average tenure across occupations doesn’t even reach 5 years.

Chart from WSJ showing less than 5 year retention average

This article focused on big data analysis for retention, looking at many different predictors to determine who might live so you can intervene. But, as the article points out, “The big challenge for employers is what, exactly, to do with the information.”

My suggestion is the rather obvious: Get out ahead of the situation whenever possible. John Hollon pointed out in TLNT that too many companies are “stuck in recession mode” and are not investing in current employees as they should – either with opportunities for internal growth or ongoing feedback.

3 Key Steps to Address our “Stickiness” Problem

Addressing the “retention challenge” requires an attack on three fronts:

  1. Create Opportunities – Employees of all ages and career stages are looking for opportunities to increase their own knowledge and grow their careers. They will either do that in your organization or elsewhere. Sometimes we make it easier for employees to look for growth opportunities elsewhere. We need to refocus our efforts (and often our budgets) on learning, development and career advancement for our current employees.
  2. Talk to the Them More! – People need ongoing constructive conversations with their leaders, mentors and managers throughout the year (and I’d argue throughout the week). Too often, we allow the structured performance review process to dictate when we hold these conversations. Frequent and timely feedback, both positive and constructive, helps employees stay on track and stay personally invested in short- and long-term outcomes.
  3. Recognize them before the traditional 5 year anniversary marker – In traditional years of service anniversary programs, why do we typically recognize people at 5, 10, 15, etc., years? Because that’s when the US and Canadian tax laws offered tax-free award options. Tax law is a terrible reason to follow a specific approach. The Wall Street Journal graphic above is the perfect illustration as to why – you won’t capture the vast majority of your employees if you wait that long. Celebrating anniversary milestone achievements is important, but it should start much sooner and occur in conjunction in ongoing peer-to-peer and manager-based recognition of desired behaviors and values.

How does your organization address retention, feedback and recognition needs? What do you seek yourself?

Is the Wisdom of Crowds Really All that Wise? (Especially in Performance Management)

Recognize This! – The insights of the many are nearly always more knowledgeable and accurate than the insights of one.

The annual performance review is broken. We all know this. I’ve written about the reasons why (too infrequent, given from one point of view) several times.

The solution? Applying the wisdom of the crowds to performance management (and not through a forced 360-degree review process, but through a more natural mechanism).

How does this work? This fun (if a bit juvenile) video from the TV show Nova on the U.S.’s public broadcasting station explains how the wisdom of crowds works. (Email viewers, click through for the video.)

The video explains the initial research on the wisdom of crowds that began with 800 attendees to a county fair in England guessing the weight of an ox. The result? “While no individual guessed the actual weights, the average of all the guesses is exactly right.”

Experts on the show go on to explain (at about the 3:00 mark):

“The average will generally be better than a randomly selected individual guess. The average of the masses assures of success. And the more guesses we throw in, the more likely we are to get the right answer.”

That’s where the wisdom of the crowds becomes applicable to performance management. Instead of relying on a single manager (or a small, pre-selected group of people for 360-degree feedback), rely on the masses instead. Instead of “guessing” at an employee’s performance, everyone else in the organization can contribute their feedback through timely, specific and very detailed recognition of others for demonstrating your core values while contributing to achieving your strategic objectives.

Taking this a step further, listen closely for this expert comment in the video:

“If you have a group of people and they each of have tiny bits of information, then you can learn a lot if you can just gather all of those bits together.”

Gathering all those bits of feedback together is the tricky part. That’s where a system comes in to not only aggregate and report on that feedback in one place, but to also correlate the crowdsourced feedback to more formal performance management processes. Blending the traditional managerial feedback and review process with the wisdom of crowds leads us to optimum solution to performance management in the 21st century – The Crowdsourced Performance Review. That link goes to the book written by my CEO, Eric Mosley, on how this works in far greater detail. I encourage you to check it out.

Do you apply the wisdom of crowds to performance management in your organization?

Important Employee Recognition Technique – Pay Attention & Respond!

Recognize This! – Simply responding to team member emails or information sharing communicates your recognition of their effort and work.

During the last five years or so that I’ve been blogging about employee recognition and rewards, I’ve written innumerable posts on best practices for strategic, social employee recognition. These include frequent (not just at the annual awards dinner), timely (soon after the event deserving of recognition), specific (not just a quick “thanks!”), personal (describes how the event/action/behavior personally impacted you, the team, the company or the customer), and a surprise (never expected, never “if you do this, then you get that.”).

One factor I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to is the importance of simply paying attention and treating as important what your employees and colleagues also deem to be important. Trish McFarlane brought this to my attention in her HR Ringleader blog:

“What I think we all forget is that to the sender, it was important enough to write.  The reason isn’t important.  What is important is that we should take a second and acknowledge that it is that person’s work.  I use the term ‘work’ in the sense of discretionary effort put forth with a specific outcome in mind. I don’t want you to spend all day dealing with only answering email or other messages.  What I  want you, and me, to do is realize that we shouldn’t just dismiss the work that someone else finds important.”

Trish is writing about this from the perspective of information, reports or emails you may receive that you don’t consider important. But the team member who developed that report or sent the email clearly considered it to be important or they wouldn’t have bothered. Simple courtesy –and, indeed, recognition – requires you to treat that information with the same level of importance.

How is this recognition? It signals to employees that the work they do has meaning and importance, that what they invest their energy in matters.

Of course, if the employee shouldn’t be spending their time in this way, then a different conversation needs to take place. But ignoring or deleting the information is not acceptable. Engaging in a coaching or feedback conversation to acknowledge the employee’s efforts and redirect to more important paths is also a powerful form of recognition.

One last word of caution on why this is important from Douglas Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup, in a Harvard Business Review blog post:

“When providing people with the direction and expected behaviors, you need to be alert to the fact that they will hold you accountable. People want to know if you are walking the talk. They will be watching your every move and you need to be one in the same… every minute of every day.”

Do you treat employee communications to you with importance? Does your manager extend that courtesy to you?

Rules of Engagement: Feedback – From Everywhere and Everyone

Recognize This! – “Feedback” is not the same as “annual performance review.”

What do you need most in your work? Sure, the cynics will say “to be left alone.” But most of us want to know if what we’re doing is right.

That’s why I argue Gen Y / millennial employees are not “recognition needy” as they are often portrayed, but instead at a stage of their lives and careers where they need frequent feedback to know if what they’re doing is the right thing to focus on and if their efforts are delivering the right results.

Indeed, I believe this is true for all employees who deeply care about the quality of their work and their contributions, regardless of generation of length of career. We all need and crave feedback. Yet, many organizations have let themselves become hostages to the annual performance review as the primary means of feedback – one source of feedback (the manager) given at one point in time.

That’s simply not enough. To this point in TLNT, authors Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni shared excerpts from their book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversation Employees Want, including these insights:

“Opportunities for feedback abound. And what probably comes to your mind first is performance feedback — job-related information about an employee’s behavior or results that helps to drive improvement. That’s certainly important — but it’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a broader and more expansive dialogue that drives development… Employees need a reality check — an opportunity to expand their perspective beyond their own to round out their self-assessment. Voila! An opportunity for feedback.”

And that feedback needs to come from more than one source. Often, peers can give better, more nuanced feedback than managers. Kaye and Giulioni go on to say:

“Employees need to develop the broadest network possible to facilitate their career success. Co-workers and others within and outside the organization have potentially important information, ideas, and helpful contacts. And gathering feedback from them is an ideal way for employees to begin to engage others in creating the path forward.”

Sure, everyone is a student. Equally true is everyone is a teacher. Open the communication lines for peers to coach, encourage and give positive feedback to each other. Open up social performance management mechanisms through strategic, social employee recognition. Stay tuned for more information on this approach coming from my CEO, Eric Mosley, next month.

Do you get the regular feedback you need in your work?

Earlier Rules of Engagement Posts:

3 Requirements for Good Performance Management

Recognize This! – Forced ranking is a proven failure. So are traditional approaches to employee incentives.

Yesterday, I jumped on the bandwagon of everyone commenting on the evisceration of Microsoft’s forced ranking performance management system. So, if that’s not the solution for better performance management, what is?

Perhaps we need to start with understanding exactly why employees don’t do what we need them to do. Earlier this month, Blanchard Leader Chat pointed out research based on survey results from 25,000 managers on precisely this question. Just a few of the top 16 reasons were the obvious ones of employees don’t know what to do, how to do it, or why the should.

The next step in the breakdown, Helen Giles in HR Magazine points out is managers simply don’t know how to or can’t describe objectively for employees what good performance is. As she writes:

“Intellectually, they accept that there’s at least a degree of plausibility in the proposition that if you are investing in the expensive piece of kit that is an employee who might be costing you, let’s say, £25,000 a year, it’s wise to ensure your return on investment by setting a crystal clear specification of what you want them to deliver in terms of speed and quality of outputs and outcomes. But they simply find it devilishly difficult to do in practice.”

Helen then goes on to argue that less emphasis needs to be placed on employee engagement and more on “good old fashioned performance management.” This is all well and good, but as Personnel Today reports, managers aren’t equipped to deal with underperformance. Yes, difficult conversations are, well, difficult to have. But they can be made easier with more data.

And that’s my point with this post. Good performance management of employees requires 3 things:

  1. Good directionStrategic, social recognition solutions make it clear for employees exactly what is expected from them, both in terms of what needs to be accomplished as well as how it should be done.
  2. Good data – Opening up a strategic recognition program to all employees to both give and receive means you’ll have vastly more data points around who is living your core values in their daily work as they contribute to achieving your key objectives.
  3. Good discussions – With this expanded data now available in real time, managers have at their fingertips the data to share with employees at a glance where they’re doing well and how they can improve. Critically, because managers have also built stronger relationships with employees by giving good direction through positive feedback more frequently and in a more timely way than just at an annual review, it’s easier for managers to discuss areas for improvement and how employees can do so.

What do you see as key requirements for good performance management?

3 Tips for Better Feedback Reception

Recognize This!  – How you receive feedback is as important as how you give it.

We can’t be great 100% of the time. Yes, we all work hard and want to do a good job, but sometimes we miss the mark. Or perhaps the “mark” moved on us and we didn’t adjust in time. Frankly, sometimes our personalities are a poor fit. And in those instances, we need honest feedback on how we’re doing in order to improve.

Yet in today’s culture it seems far less likely we’ll have people around us – especially in the workplace – willing to give us the constructive feedback we need when we need it. Jason Lauritsen has had a few posts appear on TLNT recently around this topic (here, here, and here), but I particularly agree with this statement:

“Very few people are skilled at receiving feedback. Even when it’s delivered perfectly, by the book, a person getting unexpected negative feedback is likely to react in a way that they probably won’t be proud of later.”

Let’s be honest. We love to hear positive feedback and recognition that tells us what we do well and should continue doing. But constructive feedback that tells us what we can improve or change – that’s far more difficult to accept. It’s not surprising. At our core, we want to do good work, we think we are doing good work, and yet we know sometimes we don’t. Knowing others noticed our “failure” isn’t easy.

That’s why these three tips to giving constructive feedback can make it easier for others to accept your criticism for what it is – a desire to help them improve.

1) Make it timely: The annual performance review is flawed for many reasons, not least of which is many managers use it as an excuse to delay the “tough conversations.” When someone hears “You did this poorly six months ago,” it’s easy to see why they become frustrated, especially if they know they’ve continued in that error without correction. Timely criticism is easier to accept, easier to fix and easier to move on from.

2) Make it specific: General feedback like “You’re too negative” doesn’t give the recipient any indication of what you want them to change, improve or stop doing. Specific details such as: “In the meeting with the MacGuffin Company the way you addressed their current approach came across as negative and potentially insulting” gives your employee clear context for how they behave that may need to change.

3) Make it actionable: Closely related to specific feedback is actionable feedback. Give recipients a clear path to change. Tell them “In the next client meeting, present alternative approaches to achieve their goals in a more positive light be giving the client a perspective on the benefits they can realize with our approach.” Tell employees what you want to see and make it clear you know they can deliver. Give them the confidence to change.

Ironically, these are the same three tips for making positive feedback and recognition more effective, too. Timely, specific and actionable praise has far deeper, long-lasting impact than a casual “great job” or a performance bonus given months later.

What’s the worst feedback you’ve received? How could the same message have been delivered more effectively? What about the best recognition you’ve received? What made it so good?