There are so many aspects to performance, but today I want to cover what seems like a common theme among a few of my clients and many others who have shared with me. That is the element of surprise when they receive feedback from their manager, HR or someone who facilitates their performance review process.
In a recent scenario, I had a client who thought she was performing exceptionally well. She received monthly reviews with glowing scores. Her boss never mentioned the need for anything to change. Yet overnight an external HR representative came in and drew a completely different picture without any warning. This organization outsourced their HR and a new representative came in to take on the HR duties. There is no telling if the boss was struggling to give feedback, and that was why he outsourced HR. Discomfort in giving feedback and facing conflict is a common way to avoid giving employees feedback.
My client was placed on a 30-day performance improvement plan that was several pages long. In this report there were lots of suprises, and not good ones. The first question she asked was if her performance was so subpar, then why was she just hearing about it? She admitted that there are always areas for improvement, but the majority of the points on the performance improvement plan had never been addressed as issues. She also expressed this impacted her trust and confidence at work both with her boss and the new HR company. There was also a suspicion that fell upon her with her peers.
I have also heard stories from many others who often hear about a performance issue for the first time when an annual performance review is being delivered. In many of these cases, performance is something that is only addressed once a year. In other cases, performance is not addressed at all.
Can you imagine what the lack of feedback can do to individual performers? Much like my client in the first scenario, it depletes trust, disempowers high potential development, and can cause a great deal of passive aggressive behaviors to surface. All of this can diminish a team, negatively impact your customers, wastes time and impacts the bottom line.
The truth is clear, honest and consistent discussions about performance are critical to high performing individuals and teams. Solid leaders understand that employees want to bring their best to work and have compassion when performance issues do arise. They also realize the importance of telling employees when they are doing well. When feedback is absent employees can assume that they are performing well and become complacent or lose interest in their work because they do not feel valued. Both of these are dangerous if you want to improve your team’s performance.
Next week I will share more on how to have meaningful performance conversations with your teams.