viaPeople Insight - Performance Management & Succession Planning Blog

Building a Culture of Feedback Requires Performance Feedback Skills

Nov 20, 2014 11:37:00 AM / by Amanda Seidler

Continuous, Open Performance Feedback is Becoming the Norm

performance feedbackGone are the days of the top-down, annual performance review. Organizations continue to open the performance feedback and evaluation process to invite participation from employees at all levels in the organization. This is now becoming the new normal and it offers a variety of benefits to employees and leaders. At the same time, it makes skills in providing helpful performance feedback a requirement for the entire talent pool…not just managers. Without these skills, the quality of the feedback will be limited and employees won’t get the feedback they need to develop and enhance their performance.

Whether 360 degree feedbackpeer appraisal or upward feedback is required, employee reviewers are aware that their contributions play an increasingly important role in the performance management process. In my experience, employees take the feedback process very seriously and want to offer their colleagues feedback that helps them learn and makes them feel good about their contributions. As a result, they are asking for guidance and direction on how to provide effective feedback to their direct supervisor, peers and colleagues.

As HR leaders, it is our job to support employees in the development of performance feedback skills, skills that were once only required of managers. Consider the following 5 guidelines as you create just-in-time training, resources or job aids for employees:

  1. Emphasize both positive and critical performance feedback. Feedback is not just about providing suggestions for improvement but also recognizing performance and accomplishments. Encourage employees to identify both strengths and opportunities for improvement when crafting performance feedback.
  2. Focus on work-related behavior that can be changed, not personality traits. Performance feedback should describe behaviors that have been observed. If the behavior was effective, the feedback should indicate that so that the employee knows what to continue to do in the future. If performance is ineffective, feedback should capture and describe what was ineffective about performance so that the employee knows what to change going forward.
  3. Stress specificity and clarity. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than vague or confusing comments that fail to provide a related example or are written at such a high level that they could apply to anyone/any situation. A world of texting, tweeting and status updates has caused us all to slack off in writing clearly. In order to be helpful to the employee, performance feedback needs to be very specific. Feedback should describe the basics of the situation, the action that the individual took, and the impact of the action. 
  4. Link behaviors to results and outcomes. Effective performance feedback should describe the impact and outcomes of performance. Oftentimes, employees are not aware of the impact they have on their peers and colleagues. Explaining how specific actions had a positive or negative impact on the team or organization will help to provide context to an individual’s behavior. Understanding the impact of actions serves to fuel motivation to perform and is a critical aspect of performance feedback. 
  5. Identify alternative behaviors and suggestions for improvement. Employees can be hesitant to suggest alternative actions in case they are incorrect. Without the benefits of improvement suggestions, individuals are left to find solutions on their own. Brainstorming actions is often the hold up in taking action on performance feedback. Employee reviewers can prevent this paralysis by offering practical suggestions and ideas.

HR Software Can Help

viaPeople’s Performance Management solution offers flexible workflows that organizations can use to include employee feedback at any point in the on-going performance management process. Organizations can provide links to helpful, culture-specific content to provide just-in-time resources for employees to use to reinforce their feedback skills. Contact us to see a demo of the solution and discuss how to build a constructive and effective feedback culture in your company.

performance evaluation software

Related Resources

You Rock - 5 Ways to Transform Positive Feedback

Feedback Now: We All Love Continuous Performance Feedback

Awesome Performance Feedback in Employee Performance Management

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Tags: 360 Degree Feedback, performance feedback, Upward Feedback, Peer Appraisal

Written by Amanda Seidler