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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