One of the principal challenges faced by managers, during this time of the year, is giving feedback during the appraisal process, or even otherwise. During the appraisal process, this only worsens because it is mandatory in many organizations and the stakes are higher as each word is dissected and analyzed by the team members.
‘Feedback’ is considered as one of the most powerful tool in modern management that any manager possesses. Feedback as a tool is so powerful that it can not only encourage and motivate team members to exceed targets, but also change their life and alter their perspectives towards living. Many of us have witnessed and experienced the same during our career.
So the question that arises is: If it is so critical then why do we hesitate in giving feedback?
Many researches have offered multiple perspectives on this, but some primary reasons which act as hurdles in giving feedback can be summarized as follows :-
We don't like giving bad news - As a country, where our locus of control is more outside than inside, many of us have been groomed from our childhood not to criticize anybody and build healthy relationships with one and all. This challenge gets further compounded with us as we are also a collective society and it becomes an uncomfortable situation.
We don't keep notes - One of the biggest challenges in giving feedback is our inability to keep it FACT based; we often shy away from making notes throughout the year and thereby let the ‘Recency’ influence us. Without facts, we also fall into the trap of being biased or emotionally overwhelmed.
We are not trained for this - Many of us are in the role of ‘manager’ because of our technical skills and prowess, rather than our people management ability. After being toughened for so many years without any people management skills, transforming into a coach & mentor one fine day just before the appraisals is no easy game.
While taking feedback many of the employees often complain that it is just another ‘checklist’ item and intent is information download rather than seeking a dialogue or having conversations like adults with an objective to help improve upon.
For the sake of objectivity and fairness it is imperative that during feedback we should move beyond fixed formats / agendas. We need to reintroduce the element of ‘feeling’ in our communication and appreciate the individuality of each employee.
Some meaningful insights to make feedback an experience can be as follows:-
- Feedback should be seen as a conversation wherein we express our gratitude for the contribution.
- Feedback should be an experience sharing session with an intent to share and co-create a future rather than a mundane checklist item wherein information is downloaded.
- Feedback conversation should not focus on ‘WHY’ you failed only but should also focus on ‘HOW’ you can succeed.
- Feedback shouldn't be just another annual formal ritual, but more regular like conversations over coffee breaks. By having regular sessions, the hype and unnecessary expectations gets diluted which ensures a smooth flow. Also, regular conversations ensure that the steam is blown away and doesn't accumulate with time.
- Practice feedback sessions as part of managerial growth plans. Sessions should be conducted and encouraged among technical managers to ensure that they are rightly equipped with scientific tools to provide proper feedback.
- Organizations need to appreciate that appraisals are not about assessments only, but also building bonds between dreams which can only happen if we bring back the ‘feeling’ in relationships.
Building ‘feeling’ in feedback instead of ‘failing’, as a corner stone is key to success. This is no easy task but we need to begin on this journey before it’s too late. As many of us experience by the end of the appraisal session that the ‘operation was successful but patient died’.