Most of us naturally want to get some sort of feedback from our work. Did we meet the demanded criteria? Were we helpful? Was it worth the effort we made? It’s just how we are as humans – we crave for feedback and interaction. Still, many businesses find it extremely hard to set up a proper culture of feedback.
Many times good work is taken for granted or the praisal is dropped casually like a napkin on the table. The blunt “Well done!” phrase is something alright, but it doesn’t really count as useful evaluation if we are trying to build a culture of continuous feedback. What did we actually do well and how was it evaluated?
And when it comes to the negative feedback? Well, too often we dance around the issue and let it build up until the fuck-it bucket is full and it’s time to unleash the shitstorm at the annual evaluation discussion. You can’t yell at the dog after they come back from their runaway trip, that’s what my Dad taught me. They wouldn’t understand why they are being punished now, even though they came back. while you simply want to express your frustration for them running away in the first place.
All this results in an awkward and stiff yearly evaluation meeting where a hopeful but fearful employee enters the meeting yet again with a lump in their throat. The meeting can truly be disheartening and feel quite irrelevant due to the fact that the feedback can be a sum of things from throughout the year, without having the chance to make a change anymore. This if something can demoralize a person, despite whether it’s done intentionally or unintentionally. But these patterns can be changed if we switch the way we think about appraisal discussions and approach them from a different mindset.
Try to approach the appraisal and evaluation discussions from the mindset of wholeness. Make them moments where the persons contributions are celebrated and recognized and where you also inquire together and without judgement what isn’t going so well or where their knowledge, experience, talent or attitude might fall short of what their roles require. Talking about these subjects with open ended questions compared to circling a number from a scale of 1 to 5 can make a huge difference. Instead of having a sort of a balance sheet of the person, a snapshot of their capabilities, how about looking at them from a wide-angle perspective. Ask for example to bring their CV to the meeting so you can look at their current roles at work with the bigger picture in mind by mapping out together what their potential, calling, hopes and other obligations in life are overall. We need to make this occasion personal by recalling stories, celebrating achievements and exploring the learning’s behind our failures. And maybe even have a laugh at them.
These topics open a chance for a conversation about deeper questions too: What do we truly long to do? What do we offer the world? What are our unique gifts? What holds us back? What could help us step more boldly into the life that wants to be lived through us? (Laloux, Reinventing organizations)
“People must feel safe to be honest about themselves and towards others. Only then can we use the strength of everyone and prevent people from doing things that they don’t really know how to do or don’t want to do”Jos de Blok, the founder and CEO of Buurtzorg (neighborhood nursing in the Netherlands)
If you haven’t checked the appraisal and feedback ideas from the Performance Management post yet, I recommend you give those a quick read and then dig deeper with these examples.
Performance discussion examples from different organizations written by Frederic Laloux (Reinventing Organizations)
Sun Hydraulics (simple four questions to incorporate to your yearly discussions)
1. State an admirable feature about the employee
2. Ask what contributions they have made to Sun
3. Ask what contributions they would like to make at Sun
4. Ask how Sun can help them
The negative feedback is intentionally left out of the discussion to encourage giving constructive feedback through out the year, on the spot (when possible).
The Center for Courage & Renewal (the appraisal is a moment of joint exploration)
- What has gone really well this year and what we might celebrate?
- What has been learned in the process?
- What didn’t go as well or might have been done differently?
- How do we “take stock” of where things are now compared to where we thought they might be?
- What are you most excited about in this next year?
- What concerns you most?
- What changes, if any, would you suggest in your functions?
- What ongoing professional development will help you to grow in your current job and for your future?
- How can I be of most help to you and your work?
- When you think about your work in the year ahead, what specific goals will guide you?
These are just few examples that you can use but they truly show that evaluation and feedback discussions don’t need to be spiritless and discouraging events haunting your calendar. By intentionally considering them as moments of wholeness, it is possible to turn them into rituals of celebration, appreciation and inquiry into our selfhood and calling.