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How to avoid surprises at performance review time

It is coming up to ‘End of Year Review’ time. As managers, this can be a challenging time for many of us, especially if we have important feedback for a team member that we have not yet shared with them.

Leadership specialists advise (for very good reason) that there can be ‘no surprises’ at the End of Year Review. It makes sense.  Feedback should be shared with team member in a timely fashion. In reality, there are many factors that hold managers back from giving their team members useful feedback. The biggest factor is fear! For many managers, giving feedback is one of their greatest challenges.  However, feedback given in the right way, helps motivation, boosts confidence and shows your team that you value them.


Practice Makes Perfect

The good news is, giving feedback does get easier with practice. Most of us know from being on the receiving end, that regular one-one feedback conversations provides us with great learning opportunities. Yet instead of giving feedback we often:

  • make excuses for our team member’s under-performance,
  • deny underperformance exits, and/or,
  • overload others/ourselves and work long hours to compensate.


What are the reasons for this behaviour? We

  • do not see feedback as an important part of our role,
  • believe that if we give feedback we may offend the person, or simply
  • want to be liked!


Questions to think about for End of Year Reviews

  1. To what extent is each of your team members clear on what you think and can evidence about their individual contribution to team success?
  2. How often do you give your team members feedback on individual performance?
  3. What feedback have you given each of your team members to date?


What to consider when giving feedback

Meeting up with a team member to tell them what you value about their contribution, reinforcing the natural qualities that different team members bring and being specific about how they add value to the overall dynamics and performance of the team has a positive impact not only on the individual but also the wider team and organisation.   Consider:

  1. What will be different on my team when I successfully give feedback?
  2. What is the impact on me when I don’t give feedback?
  3. How could my feedback benefit my team member?


Once you are in the right mindset then:

  1. Prepare your feedback, have examples ready and prepare to listen too.
  2. Give the feedback. Make sure that you give the positive and negative feedback.
  3. Follow up with more regular, timely feedback conversations (no matter how awkward they feel). Feedback conversations will become a lot easier the more you do them and will earn you respect.


The AID model is a useful model to follow:

  1. Action – what did the person do
  2. Impact – what was the impact of the behaviour
  3. Desired Outcome – what outcome were you looking for


An example of how to use AID

  1. Action: I noticed that you often log into our 9am meetings at about 9:10am.
  2. Impact: This means that I must recap on what we have discussed to get you up to speed and the meeting runs over time.
  3. Desired Outcome: Can you be on time for these meetings in the future?

Importantly, don’t expect the feedback conversation to be perfect. It’s ok if the conversation is a bit clumsy.  Practice makes perfect and having more regular feedback conversations throughout the year will not only make your life easier, develop your team members but, most importantly, ensure that at the End of Year Review there are no surprises.


How we can help

We work with managers to ensure they are fully prepared and skilled to engage with each member of their team to collaboratively set challenging goals, give good quality feedback and fairly rate each of their team member’s yearly performance. Contact us to find out more.


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Providing Gratitudes

What I appreciate about you is… are these words you hear in the workplace and if not, why not?

How often do we tell our colleagues what we appreciate about them and, more importantly, what difference does it actually make when we do so?

When we offer appreciation to someone, it has a positive impact; not only making the recipient happier about the work they do and the people they work with but increased engagement and positivity in the workplace.

I was working with an aircraft leasing company recently and I suggested at the end of a busy workshop that each person feedback to one person in the room the one thing they appreciated about them. The immediate effect this had was extraordinary; people in the room laughed and chatted and without being asked began to tell others what they appreciated about them too. The consensus in the room was that they had never engaged in this type of feedback before – really only talking about what goes wrong.  As a group they decided that they would more regularly recognise what they appreciate about their colleagues and tell them.


Why offering gratitude and appreciation is important in the workplace

As humans we have a tendency to notice and pay more attention to behaviour in others when things go wrong. While it is important to share these observations, is it just as important to share our observations when thing go right.

Leaders who regularly share their appreciations

  • Are quicker to catch people doing things right
  • Are quicker to have honest, balanced feedback conversations
  • Promote wellbeing and trust in the team
  • Experience less stress and more optimism
  • Promote confident and proactive behaviour in the team

Leaders who introduce honest appreciations into their regular team meetings will reap benefits and team members feel better about each other. Increased trust, an increased sense of personal and shared values, increased engagement and respect and a mutual shared vision; benefits you expect when acknowledge and thank others.

I was recently told by a client about one of her colleagues who is exceptionally good at managing difficult meetings with some challenging clients. She described how her colleague managed differing opinions in a very subtle and professional manner and defused conflict before it even began. A skill in itself.  When asked whether she had shared this observation with her colleague she said she “had never even considered it”. When probed further on this she recognised that she will point out when things go wrong because as the team lead, she feels it is her job to do that. She reflected on how she often misses critical opportunities to point out when things are right.

I have heard too many employees say “I only hear from my manager when things go wrong. If I don’t hear anything, I know my manager must be happy.” What a difference it would mean in your team if you were a manager who made a point of catching people doing things right and offering an appreciation! Try it and see!


How we can help

We all know how to offer a compliment but it can be harder to do so in the workplace.  Providing sincere appreciation to a team member for a job well done goes a long way.  To hone your skills why not contact us to find out more.

Providing Gratitudes Read More »

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