The annual performance review

Performance reviews are on many manager and employee agendas these days as we start the New Year. And on both sides, we usually hear some form of resistance to the process.

“Feedback is the breakfast—and the lunch, dinner, and midnight snack—of champions” (Ken Blanchard)

At the heart of an effective performance review is well-delivered feedback. Start by being clear about your motives and intentions for giving it and get permission to share it. Effective feedback is non-judgmental, prompts self-reflection, and enables those you share it with to take responsibility for their own performance and development.

In this more comprehensive white paper by the Ken Blanchard Companies, there’s a great list of key guidelines for giving feedback: focus on behavior, not personality; be descriptive and specific (“how, what, and why”); make sure it’s verifiable; give it immediately; control the context (neutral, unemotional, private); make it relevant and about moving forward.

Their research also reminds us that

“if someone does not get feedback, they are not going to grow. If they get feedback that is ill-delivered or ill-defined, then their performance may decline.”

Development vs. performance feedback

While these two kinds of feedback are different and have different motives and objectives, they have a lot in common. They both need to be given throughout the year for real impact. Not just once a year. And both kinds of conversations need to follow the same guidelines above and be understood as overlapping and complementary in order to achieve successful “talent management.”

Great leaders understand and know when and how to use feedback as an essential tool for developing and motivating others. When the people you lead are open and responsive to your feedback, you can be sure you’re building the mutual trust, respect, and influence that helps everyone around you develop and thrive.