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Archive for the ‘Employee Evaluation’ Category

Feedback is the Foundation of Effective Coaching

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A manager that wishes to communicate effectively must receive and impart reliable and honest input by observing, questioning and opening up productive two-way dialogue. Feedback is a major part of the total communication process that requires presenting ideas, thoughts and messages clearly and distinctly.

Within the workplace, opportunities generally surface that make it easier and faster to obtain and gather information through an informal feedback process. Informal feedback consists of the information that is provided to one another during normal workplace communications. It can be as simple as a supervisor or coworker commenting on a procedural flaw or an incorrectly completed procedure. Employees often dispense positive informal feedback by telling other coworkers when they did something well. Through daily interactions and informal feedback, leaders and managers are able to effectively establish key interpersonal-relationship connections.

The Purpose of Feedback

Before offering feedback it is essential to know just why you need it and what you intend to do with it. Below are some questions you should answer before offering one of your employees or anyone else specific feedback.

  • What is my reason or purpose for giving this feedback, and how do I intend to use it?
  • What specific actions or behaviors do I need to reinforce, alter, modify or correct?
  • What do I want to accomplish through this feedback and discussion session?
  • What specific information do I need to find out or learn more about?
  • What specific questions do I require answers to?
  • What issues of timing, location, advance preparation, or other logistics do I need to consider?

The Problem with Feedback

For some individuals just the thought of receiving feedback from another person, especially a manager or supervisor, becomes a terrifying experience. This is because they typically expect the worst, not the best, when hearing something about themselves. In fact, some employees will automatically define feedback (especially “critical feedback”) as negatively opinionated. However the actual definition of critical feedback is “the art of evaluating or analyzing with knowledge and propriety with the intent of providing useful information for future decisions.” As such, it is generally far better to focus on the positive aspects of the feedback, and interject as little of the negative as possible, especially if changing another person’s attitude or behavior is at stake.

Another reason some individuals tend to resist critical feedback has to do with personal self-image. When individuals sense, feel or believe that someone sees them in a less-than-positive light, they may feel anywhere from uncomfortable to devastated.

People like to hear what is consistent with their own views and tend to ignore ideas that run counter to their belief structures and comfort levels. It takes an open mind to listen to an opposing view, which may include hearing that they may be doing something ineffectively or possess a skill deficiency.

The Qualities of Effective Feedback

Good, reliable and usable feedback tends to have several characteristics that make it highly beneficial and valuable. For any feedback to be effective, it should be:

  • Descriptive rather than evaluative, which typically avoids generating levels of defensiveness
  • Focused on describing and detailing one’s own reactions, which leaves the individual receiving it free to use it or not to use it as he or she chooses
  • Quite specific rather than general
  • Focused on behavior rather than the individual
  • Focused on the needs of not only the receiver, but also the giver of the feedback, which is to help, not chastise or hurt
  • Directed toward a specific behavior or something the receiver can do something about
  • Asked for and not imposed on a person

The Use and Abuse of Feedback

Feedback is most useful when it is timely or immediate. This implies that it is wisest to offer it soon after a specific action or behavior warrants eliciting it. It is important to keep in mind that even effective feedback, if it is presented at an inappropriate time, may do more harm than good.

Feedback should be used for sharing of information, rather than for simply providing directions, opinions and advice. The main idea behind giving feedback is that it is intended to allow the receiver to personally decide its validity or usefulness, which is inherently based on whether or not it is in agreement or harmony with the person’s own goals and needs. Keep in mind that when anyone provides advice by informing another person what to do, that individual to some degree or another ends up taking away the other person’s freedom.

Effective feedback usage involves structuring the amount of information the receiver can use, rather than the amount the imparter would like to give. Overloading an individual with feedback works to reduce the possibility that he or she may be able to effectively use what is received. When givers of feedback continually impart more informative feedback than can be effectively used, they are more often than not satisfying some need of their own, rather than giving it in order to help the other person.

Effective feedback usage tends to be concerned with what is said and done, or how—not why. The “why” involves assumptions regarding motive or intent and this tends to alienate the person getting the feedback, while generating elements of resentment, suspicion, and distrust.

Excerpt: Coaching: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Related:

Supporting Employees’ Need to Achieve Maximum Results

Should Accountability Be a Primary Priority?

Assessing Employee Growth and Development

Nine Rules for Coaching Your Employees

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Evaluations Have to Be Consistent with Leadership’s Overall Direction

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As organizations shift and adapt to forces of change, leaders must also evolve their personal methods—including how they evaluate their employees’ performance. Evaluations have to be consistent with leadership’s overall direction as well as the motivational methods employed by other individual leaders. They should enhance, not undermine, the progress of the organization.

There is a sizeable gulf between leaders who build empowered organizations and those who employ more traditional and antiquated evaluative methods. This has resulted in a source of conflict causing internal dissention and personal rifts that run counter to the goals of the leader and the organization.

As organizations evolve, new methods of performance evaluation must be designed and incorporated so that employees feel they “are” the organization. When this is achieved, employees will both better understand what it will take to accomplish goals and be more inspired to work toward them.

Thus performance evaluation methods need to adapt with the organization to involve rather than alienate the individual employee. Rather than focus on past mistakes and failures, the evaluation moves the organization forward through the development and increased competence of its individual members. In this manner growth is enhanced and ongoing.

Traditional performance evaluation methods typically measure individual employees’ performance based on a rigid set of standards and parameters. These are used to evaluate their work against a job description rather than gauging the employee’s involvement, contribution and personal growth as factors in the larger picture of achieving the organization’s goals and objectives. With this in mind, leaders must look at the method by which they evaluate employee performance, and ensure it is designed to:

Bridge Performance

In an empowered organization, employees cannot be simply evaluated upon whether or not they are working within the parameters of a specific job description. As the organization becomes increasingly empowered and evolves in the use of workgroups and teams, job descriptions become increasingly irrelevant evaluative tools. Performance increasingly shifts away from the individual and to the group or team as employees work toward mutual goals as defined by the shared vision.

In this light, leaders must evaluate the performance of the organization he or she directs and determine how well the individual employee fits into the overall picture. All performance is interconnected; an individual is either a strong or weak link in the entire process. They are evaluated according to how well they work within this environment. Leaders must use the evaluative process to make the individual employee’s work more meaningful by expanding their understanding of how they fit into the organization and how their job can lead to personal self-improvement.

Evaluate Employee Contributions

Rather than evaluate individual employee’s performance against a specific job assignment, leaders must view it in the context of their contribution to the entire organization. In this regard, leaders demonstrate to employees in a very real way that their ideas, insights and personal contributions are both valued and needed if the organization is to succeed.

As empowerment deepens in the organizational environment, a synergy develops within each unit that leads to organizational cohesiveness. Once developed, leaders can easily evaluate how well the individual works and operates within this environment and whether they adapt to or fight the transition.

Provide Guidance for Growth

Rather than focus on past performance, leaders should use the counseling process to give their employees guidance in developing their individual capabilities. This is designed to provide individuals with a road toward increased competence, personal growth and satisfaction. The focus should be on future development and direction that contributes to increased overall levels of productivity required by the organization. In this context, employees understand what is expected of them as they contribute to the future success of the organization.

Increase Personal Involvement

In empowered organizations, the performance evaluation is not an “us against them” proposition, but a process where employees are involved in the improvement of their own performance. The ratings and conflict associated with traditional performance evaluations should be reduced if not eliminated as employees feel an increase in freedom and self-determination through meaningful involvement in their evaluation.

When the focus of the evaluation shifts to the performance of the organization and the employee’s contribution toward the accomplishment of mutual goals and objectives, it becomes clear to most what is needed to improve. This is different than focusing on the faults and problems associated with individual performance.

Individuals want to be part of something bigger, and will work harder toward the attainment of a mutual goal. This is clearly demonstrated when sports teams comprised of average players are able to win championships over more talented teams. The mutual goal of the organization brings out the best in each individual when he or she works with the team. Strong synergy and cohesiveness spurring individual performance on to greater heights is not just a sports phenomenon: it can take effect in any organization.

Related:

When Evaluating Performance Consider the Intangibles

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Should Accountability Be a Primary Priority?

Excerpt: Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

When Evaluating Performance Consider the Intangibles

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Decision making can take many forms depending upon the specific aspects of performance being identified and addressed. When leaders are making performance-based decisions regarding their organizational units, the decisions are typically based upon individual performance of the leaders, managers and employees under their direction.

Although performance can be documented in tangible and measurable terms, it invariably points to the performance or lack thereof of the individual(s) accountable for specific results. However, because decisions concerning these individuals are never made in a void, a number of more subjective factors must be considered.

This is important for leaders to appreciate because the performance evaluation program in an empowered organization incorporates all pertinent factors and contexts in order to yield more informed decisions regarding individual and corporate performance.

Since performance decisions revolve around the individual employees within an organization, the following less tangible factors need consideration. Often leaders are subconsciously aware of these aspects when making decisions, but they require more deliberate and formal weighing.

However, where possible even subjective factors should be linked to something tangible. In some cases overall employee performance and behaviors can be benchmarked, giving leaders a tangible backdrop against which to evaluate an employee when a decision is needed.

Cooperation

Certain employees will cooperate to the extent they are compelled to do so, while others will cooperate and offer their services beyond what is expected. In a union environment, some employees will hide behind negotiated rules to mask their lack of willingness to cooperate.

Undoubtedly when performance decisions must be made concerning individual employees, the level of cooperation among them becomes an important factor to consider. Within the empowered organization, cooperation tends to increase as more decisions are driven down to frontline employees.

Enthusiasm

As companies face continual change and evolve into empowered organizations, individual employees may become fearful or resistant to adjustments being made. With little other choice they may accept them, but not be enthusiastic. Leaders should watch for these tendencies as they can produce a drag on individual performance and even spread to others, further affecting motivation and morale.

Motivation

Personal levels of cooperation and enthusiasm are indicators of the individual employee’s motivation. As a leader transitions his or her employees into a cohesive organizational unit, employee motivation should shift from, “What’s in it for me?” thinking to a more group-oriented outlook.

As organizations transition from the traditional centralized and polarized bureaucracy to an empowered organization, employees also undergo a transition. Some will undoubtedly progress faster than others, but there comes a time when all should be motivated at least more by the group than the self. Thus an employee’s perspective must be considered in making performance decisions. If one or more employees have problems in this area, the leader must address them lest they fester and impact the progress of the organization.

Feedback and Insight

Employees that have worked in a job for a long period of time develop what is known as “native knowledge.” As this is developed, these employees begin to know all the “tricks of the trade” enabling them to be more efficient in their jobs. This is the information that leaders must tap into and share with the rest of their employees.

However, many longtime employees are reluctant to share this information since it provides them with “insurance” and a sense of job security. They are fearful that once they have shared this information, lower-paid employees may replace them.

As leaders evaluate their organizational performance, the feedback and insights shared by individual employees must be considered. Leaders should know the level of contribution an employee is capable of providing through daily interaction with them. They should be aware of those employees who are sharing their expertise and those who are not, and this is then factored into decisions made regarding performance.

Teamwork

The role of the leader is to lead and form the employees under them into a team focused on mutual goals and objectives. The more cohesive the organizational unit, the more productive and efficient it becomes. Thus as decisions are made about performance, the level of teamwork becomes an increasingly important consideration.

As decisions are made over time, the levels of teamwork should rise accordingly. Undoubtedly, if problems are identified with one or more employees, factors of cooperation, enthusiasm, motivation and performance also become issues with these employees. All of these factors are interlinked when making decisions regarding performance.

Performance

As all evaluative decision making factors are interlinked, deficiencies in one or more of these areas will contribute to personal performance problems. Conversely, strong indications in all of these decision making categories will contribute to enhanced performance.

Most performance decisions are based upon end results alone. However, when the sum total of these factors is evaluated, the problems behind the lack of performance are highlighted, making the leader’s decisions more meaningful.

When the root causes behind a problem are identified, it is easy for leaders to take the specific actions required to solve the problem.

Uncontrollable Circumstances

The final factor that must be considered in making performance decisions is the impact of uncontrollable events upon individual performance. Obviously factors of global competition, economic downturns and situations such as a shipping strike, internal production issues, and even weather can impact individual results. These realities and circumstances must be given appropriate consideration in making equitable performance decisions.

Related:

Feedback is the Foundation of Effective Coaching

Assessing Employee Growth and Development

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Focusing Employees on Common Goals

Excerpt: Strengthening Leadership Performance (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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