Your performance reviews suck! Reason #4

If growing up you mostly received feedback about what you were doing wrong, how do you think you feel about yourself growing into adulthood? Stop hitting your brother, don’t stack the dishwasher ‘that’ way, don’t talk to me that way, go to your room, you’re a naughty boy, you’re impossible.

Or you may be in the generation where you get praised for nearly everything. Where you received a ribbon for turning up to the running race and graduating from Grade 6. You may never have had boundaries set and honoured.

Then we grow up (well some of us) and come to work and what might happen? Sometimes the same. It could be one of these 4 scenarios when it comes to feedback:

  1. You become wrong. You only get feedback or comments on what you are doing when it’s not right. 
  2. You become invisible. You get little feedback at all.
  3. You become faultless. You only get praise.
  4. You become a high performer. You are in conversations about the good and the gaps.

It’s easy to assess your experience of your performance reviews by looking at these scenarios. I am going to ask you to flip this and ask yourself how YOU communicate with your manager or your people during review time. It’s more powerful to assess the role you play. That’s the one you can change. That’s the powerful piece.

  1. You help them feel wrong. You only give feedback or comment when things are not going well. 
  2. You allow people to feel invisible. You give little feedback at all.
  3. You enable people to feel faultless. You only give praise.
  4. You contribute to high performers. You discuss the good and the gaps.

In Gallup’s recent whitepaper; Stop weakness-based performance management, they found that focusing on gaps doesn’t improve performance. In fact, it’s only motivating to 19% of the workforce. That’s only 1 in 5 people. We are wired to see gaps in others and ourselves but not as wired to want to discuss them all the time. 

In my experience, creating cultures where people love coming to work, the 3rd scenario allowing people to feel faultless, is the one that has grown most in the past few years. It’s where we are so ‘nice’ to each other that we avoid talking about all the things we need to. We did this because we were concerned about people’s well-being during COVID. And now this has become a norm.

We now have more ‘undiscussables’ at work. We praise people and avoid the conversations we need to have. It came from a place of compassion but the outcome is not serving us.

What scenario are your performance reviews geared towards? What’s the role you are playing? 

Do you want to find out why feedback has become so hard and what you can do about it? Then come along to my lunch-time session, Embedding a Feedback Culture in 2023. Find out more and register here.