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The Feedback Formula – Give Feedback in Two Minutes or Less

The Feedback Formula:

1. Introduce the conversation so feedback recipients know what to expect.

2. Share your motive for speaking so both the feedback provider and the recipient feel as comfortable as possible.

3. Describe the observed behavior so the recipient can picture a specific, recent example of what you’re referring to. The more specific you are, the less defensive he will be, and the more likely he’ll be to hear you and take corrective action.

4. Sharing the impact or result describes the consequences of the behavior. It’s what happened as a result of the person’s actions.

5. Having some dialogue gives both people a chance to speak and ensures that the conversation is not one-sided. Many feedback conversations are not conversations at all; they’re monologues. One person talks and the other person pretends to listen, while thinking what an idiot you are. Good feedback conversations are dialogues during which the recipient can ask questions, share his point of view, and explore next steps.

6. Make a suggestion or request so the recipient has another way to approach the situation or task in the future. Most feedback conversations tell the person what he did wrong and the impact of the behavior; only rarely do they offer an alternative. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If people knew a better way to do something, they would do it another way.

7. Building an agreement on next steps ensures there is a plan for what the person will do going forward. Too many feedback conversations do not result in behavior change. Agreeing on next steps creates accountability.

8. Say “Thank you” to create closure and to express appreciation for the recipient’s willingness to have a difficult conversation.

If you’re giving more than one piece of feedback during a conversation, address each issue individually. For example, if you need to tell someone that she needs to arrive on time and also check her work for errors, first go through the eight steps in the formula to address lateness. When you’ve discussed an agreement of next steps about being on time, go back to step one and address the errors. But talk about one issue at a time so the person clearly understands what she’s supposed to do.

Here’s how a conversation could sound, using the eight-step Feedback Formula:

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“John, I need to talk with you.”

Step Two: Share your motive for speaking.

“This is a little awkward, and it may be uncomfortable. I want you to know that while I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, I’m doing it because I care about you and I want you to be successful.”

Just because you’re direct doesn’t mean you’re not empathetic. But remember, these are my words. You’ll need to find your own words that you feel comfortable using to deliver such a difficult message.

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“John, I’ve noticed that you have an odor.”

Step Four: Share the impact or result of the behavior.

“I know this is a very awkward subject (more empathy). We work in a small space. I don’t want others to avoid working with you or say negative things about you. And as awkward as this is, I would rather you hear this from me than from someone else. Sometimes health conditions can cause certain odors, as can eating certain foods.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Ask the recipient for his perception of the situation.

“What are your thoughts?”

Give John time to say whatever he wishes to say.

Step Six: Make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Again, I’m really sorry to have to tell you this. Please make sure you shower every day before coming to work and wash your clothes regularly. And please tell me if there’s something else you’d like me to know.”

Because of the awkwardness of this subject, skip step seven, and go to step eight.

“Thank you for being willing to have this conversation with me.”

You Can Say More Than You Think You Can

You might be gasping, thinking there is no way you could ever tell someone he smells. It’s definitely an awkward conversation, one I hope you never have to have. I used one of the most difficult things you will ever have to say to demonstrate that even the most awkward feedback can be delivered empathetically and quickly.

The short and concise body-odor conversation is a lot less uncomfortable for the recipient than the drawn-out, evasive first version. Just think, would you rather listen to someone tell you that you smell for two minutes or for twenty?

You may also think, “I shouldn’t have to tell someone to take a shower and wash their clothes.” That’s true, you shouldn’t. But if you’re working with someone who doesn’t do these things, clearly someone needs to tell him. Remember, other people are not you and don’t do things the way you do, even when those things appear to be no-brainer basics.

Lastly, you may think that telling someone to shower and wash his clothes is insulting and demeaning. It’s true: No matter how you spin it, there’s nothing nice about this message. But which is worse, having your coworkers ask for different desks and be unwilling to work with you, or having someone who has your best interests at heart tell you privately to clean it up—quite literally? When you tell people the truth, you do them a favor.

Here’s another example: A few years ago I had a coworker who was a lingerer. Lisa would hover outside my office until she saw an opportunity to interrupt. She then walked in uninvited and started talking. I was still mid-thought about whatever I’d been working on and wasn’t ready to listen. After a few sentences, I would interrupt Lisa, saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Will you please start over?”

Embarrassing as it sounds, this went on for more than a year. I wanted to be seen as accessible and open, yet this “lingering” method of interrupting was driving me crazy. And it was a waste of both of our time. After many months of frustration, I decided to use the eight-step Formula.

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“Lisa, I want to talk about something I’ve noticed.”

Step Two: Share your motive for speaking.

“I probably should have said something a long time ago. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“I’ve noticed that when you want to talk to me you stand at my door, waiting for a good time to interrupt. When you come into my office, you’re often in the middle of a thought or problem that you’ve probably been thinking about for a while.”

Steps Four and Six: Share the impact or result of the behavior and make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Because I’m in the middle of something completely different, it takes me a few seconds to catch up. By the time I have, I’ve missed key points about your question and I have to ask you to start over. This isn’t a good use of either of our time.

“Here is my request: When I’m in my office working and you need something, knock and ask if it’s a good time. If it is, I’ll say yes. Give me a few seconds to finish whatever I’m working on, so I’m focused on you when we start talking. I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Then start at the beginning, giving me a little background, so I have some context. And if it isn’t a good time for me, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Allow the recipient to say whatever she needs to say.

“What do you think?”

Step Seven: Agree on next steps.

“Okay, so next time you want to talk with me, you’re going to tap on the door and ask if it’s a good time to talk. If it’s not, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can. If it is a good time, you’re going to give me a second to finish whatever I’m working on and give me some background about the issue at hand. Does that work for you?”

We have just managed “the lingerer”—a challenge you probably have, unless you work from home or in a closet.

You may have noticed that I changed the order of the Feedback Formula during this conversation. It’s not the order of the conversation that’s important. It’s that you provide specific feedback, offer alternative actions, and have some dialogue before the conversation ends.

Summary: Good Feedback Is Specific, Succinct, and Direct.

Provided you have a trusting relationship with someone and have secured permission to give feedback, there is very little you can’t say in two minutes or less. The shorter and more direct the message, the easier it is to hear and act upon. Follow the eight-step Feedback Formula. Be empathetic and direct. Cite specific examples. Give the other person a chance to talk. Come to agreement about next steps. Remember, you do people a favor by being honest with them. People may not like what you have to say, but they will invariably thank you for being candid.

This week’s blog is an excerpt from my book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide for Building Business Relationships That Really Work. I hope it helps you have the conversations you need to have! Be candid. You can do it!


Giving Feedback is Hard – Setting Expectations Is Easier

Setting ExpectationsMy last few blog posts focused on giving feedback. The posts were designed to help managers get ready to write and deliver performance appraisals.

Giving feedback will always be hard. No one wants to hear that she isn’t doing a good job, thus no one wants to tell her. Part of the performance appraisal process is setting expectations for the next year. And asking for what you want, before problems happen, will always be easier than giving feedback.

If you’ve seen me speak or attended one of our training programs, you received a list of Candor Questions designed to eliminate the guessing at work. They may have been questions for leaders, managers, strengthening business relationships or managing careers. Regardless of which Candor Question Cards you received, the goal is the same. Ask more. Assume less.

The most frequent request I get is for feedback training. Managers tell me, “The communication in our company isn’t good. Can you help our managers and employees be more candid?”  And I tell business leaders, “I teach people to be more comfortable giving feedback. But why start with something hard? Why not start by asking more questions and getting to know people better, which is much easier and will reduce the number of feedback conversations you need to have?”

When we know what people expect, we can give people what they need. We make fewer ‘mistakes’, requiring fewer feedback conversations. So start with what’s easy. Ask more questions.

Start with what I call Introductory Candor Questions

  • How do you like to receive information – email, voicemail or text message?
  • Are you a detail-oriented or a big-picture person? How much information do you want to receive and in what format?
  • What are your pet peeves at work? What would I do that would be frustrating, and I’d never know it?

Then move on to Candor Questions for Managers:

  • What had you choose to work here, and what would make you question that decision?
  • What kind of work do you love to do most? What kind of work do you like to do least?
  • What do you wish I would start, stop, and continue doing?

You can download samples of our seven types of Candor Questions here.

People are not us and don’t do things the way we do. Don’t assume someone will create a report as you would, participate in a meeting as you would, or dress for an event as you would. Setting expectations before the event of what you want, gives them a chance to be successful.

 

 

Giving Feedback is Hard – Asking for What You Want is Easier. By Shari Harley.


The Feedback Formula – Give Feedback in Two Minutes or Less

The Feedback Formula:

1. Introduce the conversation so feedback recipients know what to expect.

2. Empathize so both the feedback provider and the recipient feel as comfortable as possible.

3. Describe the observed behavior so the recipient can picture a specific, recent example of what you’re referring to. The more specific you are, the less defensive he will be, and the more likely he’ll be to hear you and take corrective action.

4. Sharing the impact or result describes the consequences of the behavior. It’s what happened as a result of the person’s actions.

5. Having some dialogue gives both people a chance to speak and ensures that the conversation is not one-sided. Many feedback conversations are not conversations at all; they’re monologues. One person talks and the other person pretends to listen, while thinking what an idiot you are. Good feedback conversations are dialogues during which the recipient can ask questions, share his point of view, and explore next steps.

6. Make a suggestion or request so the recipient has another way to approach the situation or task in the future. Most feedback conversations tell the person what he did wrong and the impact of the behavior; only rarely do they offer an alternative. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If people knew a better way to do something, they would do it another way.

7. Building an agreement on next steps ensures there is a plan for what the person will do going forward. Too many feedback conversations do not result in behavior change. Agreeing on next steps creates accountability.

8. Say “Thank you” to create closure and to express appreciation for the recipient’s willingness to have a difficult conversation.

If you’re giving more than one piece of feedback during a conversation, address each issue individually. For example, if you need to tell someone that she needs to arrive on time and also check her work for errors, first go through the eight steps in the formula to address lateness. When you’ve discussed an agreement of next steps about being on time, go back to step one and address the errors. But talk about one issue at a time so the person clearly understands what she’s supposed to do.

Here’s how a conversation could sound, using the eight-step Feedback Formula:

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“John, I need to talk with you.”

Step Two: Empathize.

“This is a little awkward, and it may be uncomfortable. I want you to know that while I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, I’m doing it because I care about you and I want you to be successful.”

Just because you’re direct doesn’t mean you’re not empathetic. But remember, these are my words. You’ll need to find your own words that you feel comfortable using to deliver such a difficult message.

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“John, I’ve noticed that you have an odor.”

Step Four: Share the impact or result of the behavior.

“I know this is a very awkward subject (more empathy). We work in a small space. I don’t want others to avoid working with you or say negative things about you. And as awkward as this is, I would rather you hear this from me than from someone else. Sometimes health conditions can cause certain odors, as can eating certain foods.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Ask the recipient for his perception of the situation.

“What are your thoughts?”

Give John time to say whatever he wishes to say.

Step Six: Make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Again, I’m really sorry to have to tell you this. Please make sure you shower every day before coming to work and wash your clothes regularly. And please tell me if there’s something else you’d like me to know.”

Because of the awkwardness of this subject, skip step seven, and go to step eight.

“Thank you for being willing to have this conversation with me.”

You Can Say More Than You Think You Can

You might be gasping, thinking there is no way you could ever tell someone he smells. It’s definitely an awkward conversation, one I hope you never have to have. I used one of the most difficult things you will ever have to say to demonstrate that even the most awkward feedback can be delivered empathetically and quickly.

The short and concise body-odor conversation is a lot less uncomfortable for the recipient than the drawn-out, evasive first version. Just think, would you rather listen to someone tell you that you smell for two minutes or for twenty?

You may also think, “I shouldn’t have to tell someone to take a shower and wash their clothes.” That’s true, you shouldn’t. But if you’re working with someone who doesn’t do these things, clearly someone needs to tell him. Remember, other people are not you and don’t do things the way you do, even when those things appear to be no-brainer basics.

Lastly, you may think that telling someone to shower and wash his clothes is insulting and demeaning. It’s true: No matter how you spin it, there’s nothing nice about this message. But which is worse, having your coworkers ask for different desks and be unwilling to work with you, or having someone who has your best interests at heart tell you privately to clean it up—quite literally? When you tell people the truth, you do them a favor.

Here’s another example: A few years ago I had a coworker who was a lingerer. Lisa would hover outside my office until she saw an opportunity to interrupt. She then walked in uninvited and started talking. I was still mid-thought about whatever I’d been working on and wasn’t ready to listen. After a few sentences, I would interrupt Lisa, saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Will you please start over?”

Embarrassing as it sounds, this went on for more than a year. I wanted to be seen as accessible and open, yet this “lingering” method of interrupting was driving me crazy. And it was a waste of both of our time. After many months of frustration, I decided to use the eight-step Formula.

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“Lisa, I want to talk about something I’ve noticed.”

Step Two: Empathize.

“I probably should have said something a long time ago. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“I’ve noticed that when you want to talk to me you stand at my door, waiting for a good time to interrupt. When you come into my office, you’re often in the middle of a thought or problem that you’ve probably been thinking about for a while.”

Steps Four and Six: Share the impact or result of the behavior and make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Because I’m in the middle of something completely different, it takes me a few seconds to catch up. By the time I have, I’ve missed key points about your question and I have to ask you to start over. This isn’t a good use of either of our time.

“Here is my request: When I’m in my office working and you need something, knock and ask if it’s a good time. If it is, I’ll say yes. Give me a few seconds to finish whatever I’m working on, so I’m focused on you when we start talking. I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Then start at the beginning, giving me a little background, so I have some context. And if it isn’t a good time for me, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Allow the recipient to say whatever she needs to say.

“What do you think?”

Step Seven: Agree on next steps.

“Okay, so next time you want to talk with me, you’re going to tap on the door and ask if it’s a good time to talk. If it’s not, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can. If it is a good time, you’re going to give me a second to finish whatever I’m working on and give me some background about the issue at hand. Does that work for you?”

We have just managed “the lingerer”—a challenge you probably have, unless you work from home or in a closet.

You may have noticed that I changed the order of the Feedback Formula during this conversation. It’s not the order of the conversation that’s important. It’s that you provide specific feedback, offer alternative actions, and have some dialogue before the conversation ends.

Summary: Good Feedback Is Specific, Succinct, and Direct.

Provided you have a trusting relationship with someone and have secured permission to give feedback, there is very little you can’t say in two minutes or less. The shorter and more direct the message, the easier it is to hear and act upon. Follow the eight-step Feedback Formula. Be empathetic and direct. Cite specific examples. Give the other person a chance to talk. Come to agreement about next steps. Remember, you do people a favor by being honest with them. People may not like what you have to say, but they will invariably thank you for being candid.

This week’s blog is an excerpt from my book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide for Building Business Relationships That Really Work. I hope it helps you have the conversations you need to have! Be candid. You can do it!


Specific Feedback is Good Feedback

Most of the feedback people receive in the workplace isn’t feedback at all.  It’s what I fondly refer to as Cap’n Crunch – vague and unhelpful words that make people defensive but don’t change behavior. If you want the people you work with to do some differently, give specific feedback.

Most of the fake feedback people get sounds like this:Specific Feedback

“You did a great job on that.”

“You’re doing really good work.”

“You’re dressing inappropriately.”

“You’re difficult to work with.”

None of this is feedback. It’s all Cap’n Crunch. Vague, vague, and more vague.

The first words out of your mouth will invariably be Cap’n Crunch. Follow those words with, “for example” and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

“You did a great job on that. For example, I never had to ask about the status of the project. You gave me an update every Friday, and that made me feel comfortable that we were on track.”

You dressed inappropriately for that meeting. For example, the client was dressed in business casual and you were jeans and tennis shoes. Next time, please dress as the client dresses or a step above in khaki pants or slacks, a button down shirt, and a jacket.”

Most people are afraid to give feedback because they don’t want to deal with the defensive reaction they anticipate. The more vague you are, the more defensive people will be. Because they don’t know what you’re talking about.

If employees shop your feedback around, asking what others think of the feedback, it’s because you were vague, they disagree with you or they’re being defensive. Feedback will be received better and resisted less if you’re specific.

Specific feedback can be captured on video. Meaning, you can video someone walking into a meeting late, rolling his eyes, and texting on his phone. I dare you to video “you were disrespectful in the meeting, you dressed inappropriately, or you’re difficult to work with.”  If you can’t capture the feedback on video, you don’t yet have specific feedback. You have Cap’n Crunch.

When I teach managers to give feedback I ask the managers to, “Describe the situation to me. What did the person do? Managers often reply with, “He was negative.” This is Cap’n Crunch. So I keep asking questions. “What did he do that was negative? What did it look like?” After two or three questions the manager tells me, “I overheard him complaining to other employees in his cube about the decisions the company is making. I’d rather he ask me questions about the direction we’re going versus gossip to his peers.” Now we have specific feedback.

Wait to give feedback until you have a specific example. If you don’t have a specific example, go get one. Without an example, employees will look at you in a confused way, question the validity of what you’re saying and become defensive. And they’ll be right in doing all of these things.

Most of us dread giving and receiving performance reviews. Last week, this week and next week’s blogs are designed to make the performance appraisal process easier. If you want more help, chapters nine through twelve of How to Say Anything to Anyone provide a clear and easy-to-follow formula for giving specific feedback.

I’ll be back next week with more tips on giving feedback that actually changes behavior. Until then, BE SPECIFIC. If you’re not using the words “for example” you’re not giving specific feedback.

HowtoSayAnythingtoAnyoneBulk


The Job Interview Questions Hiring Managers Must Ask

There is one job interview question recruiters and hiring managers must ask. And the answer should be a deal breaker.

The most important job interview question for any role and level, in every organization: Tell me about a time you received negative feedback.

This is NOT the same question as tell me about a weakness. Or tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. Those are also important job interview questions to ask. But they’re not the most important question.

Let’s assume everyone you interview is age sixteen and older. Unless your candidates live in a cave, never speaking to anyone, it’s not possible to arrive at age 16 without having received negative feedback. The feedback can come from a friend, teacher, or parent. It doesn’t need to be work related.

The point of the question is to discover whether the candidate is open to feedback. People who are not open to feedback are extraordinarily difficult to work with. They aren’t coachable. Any type of feedback they receive will result in resistance and defensiveness.

Employees who aren’t open to feedback won’t change or improve their behavior, regardless of how effective a manager is. Instead of listening to feedback and taking corrective action, employees who are not open to feedback will tell managers why they are wrong.

Everyone you interview has received negative feedback at some point. The question is whether or not candidates were open enough to listen to the feedback. People who aren’t open to feedback won’t be able to answer your question.

If candidates can’t tell you about a time they received negative feedback, ask a follow-up question. Your job as the interviewer is to give candidates every possible opportunity to be successful. If you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, ask the interview question in two different ways, until you’re certain the candidate can’t or won’t answer the question.

If candidates can’t tell you about a time they received negative feedback, ask what their reputation is at their current job or was at a previous job. Candidates probably won’t be able to answer this question either. Most people don’t know their reputation at work.

Even if a candidate doesn’t know with certainty his reputation at work, the answer he provides will give you a sense of how self aware he is. People who are self aware are more open to feedback and are easier to coach and manage than people who are not self aware.

I really do eliminate candidates who demonstrate that they aren’t open to feedback –whether I’m hiring for Candid Culture or for one of my clients. I don’t care how credentialed or experienced the candidate is.


Performance Appraisals Gone Wrong – Do’s & Don’ts

I received lots of emails last week about performance appraisals gone wrong. Some made me sad. Some made me sigh. And the ‘best of’ the worst was so outlandish it made me laugh out loud. Really laugh out loud. Not that LOL thing we overuse.

The ‘best of’ the worst examples of performance appraisals are below.

Bad example #1:  Giving mixed messages.

•   Giving an employee working on a long project gift cards as a reward and then during the performance appraisal telling her she did the whole project wrong and had to start over.

Bad example #2:  Waiting too long to give feedback.

• Giving an employee a performance appraisal six months late.

Bad example #3:  Being lazy.

• Using the employee’s self appraisal as the final appraisal, without the manager adding any of his or her own comments.

Bad example #4:  Never awarding the highest rating possible, to anyone.

• If a one is the best rating and a five is the worst rating, no one ever earns a one.

Bad example #5:  Holding people to expectations and standards but not sharing those expectations.

• Not clarifying at the beginning of the year what the expectations are and what a good job looks like.

Bad example #6:  Never giving employees feedback about their performance.

• Writing performance appraisals and documenting performance issues, but giving none of the written or verbal feedback to the employee.

Bad example #7:  Giving small amounts of vague feedback.

• Giving little to no data in the review because the manager didn’t work closely enough with the employee to observe performance directly and didn’t ask others in the organization to provide feedback.

Bad example #8 (I received this example SEVERAL times): Providing only a written appraisal.

• Handing an employee a written appraisal while in a meeting with other people and never having a conversation.

This is just hilarious:

“During my annual performance appraisal I was asked if I was manic. After a moment or two of trying to understand what my supervisor meant by the comment, I finally asked. My supervisor replied, “Well, you are so upbeat about your job all the time, I just thought you were manic. Nobody can be that happy about working here.””

The winner for being the ‘best of’ the worst:

My manager tossed my performance appraisal on my desk saying, “Just look this over and sign it. I want it back by the end of the day.” Of course, the appraisal was full of feedback and expectations that I had never received.

I told my manager, “There is a lot of information here that was never discussed with me. I would have liked the opportunity to discuss these issues before it showed up in my review.”

The manager replied, “See this is why I didn’t want to meet with you! I knew you would react badly! Just man up, take the feedback, and sign the thing! It’s due to HR today.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Managers: If you do a little better than these ten examples of performance appraisals, you’re outperforming your manager peers. Sad but true.

Employees: You are responsible for your career happiness, success, and satisfaction, not your boss. Ask for expectations at the beginning of anything new and for regular feedback.

Take your performance into your own hands:

1. Don’t wait for your boss to set expectations. Ask your boss for his/her expectations. Get very clear on what a good job looks like, before you start working on a project and/or when the year starts.

2. Write annual goals and review them with your direct supervisor at least quarterly. During your regular one-on-ones, ask for feedback. If you don’t have regular one-on-ones, start. Ask your boss’s permission to schedule a one-on-one at least quarterly to update him/her on projects and to gather feedback.

3. Ask for regular feedback on pieces of work as you complete the work. Don’t wait until the end of a project to get feedback.

4. Ask for feedback about your overall performance once a quarter.

Ask these questions:

• How am I doing so far this year performance wise?
• What mistakes have I made from which I need to recover?
• What aspects of my work have contributed most to the organization?
• What do I need to do between now and the end of the year to ensure a positive performance appraisal?

The performance appraisal system doesn’t have to be rife with challenge and lead to disappointment. Take more control over your conversations and thus your outcomes.


Advil Free Performance Appraisal

I’ve never had a performance appraisal that didn’t make me want to quit. Throughout my 15-year corporate career, before starting Candid Culture,I had some great bosses. And I always got good ratings and positive reviews. But there was always some comment or piece of feedback, in every performance appraisal, that frustrated me or impacted my raise or bonus in a way that felt unfair.

And each time I got feedback that felt unfair, I looked for how I contributed to the situation.

Performance Appraisal

Which means it’s our job to ask the expectations of the people we work with and collect their feedback throughout the year, so we’re not blind-sided at year end.

Below are some tips to ensure you give and receive a useful and trauma-free performance appraisal.

If you read my last blog post,you know that your boss may not know all the good and not-so-good things you do on a daily basis. It’s your job to let her know about your accomplishments.

Assemble a list of things you’ve accomplished this year. This list might include emails and feedback from people you work with both inside and outside your organization. Ask your boss’s permission to send her the list. And tell her the information is intended to make it easy to write your appraisal.

If you don’t have feedback from your peers and internal or external customers, ask for it. I define customers as anyone you need to get your job done and anyone who needs you to get their job done. Send a short email to five or six people with whom you work closely, and ask them to send your boss some feedback about your performance this past year. If they’re comfortable sending you the feedback directly, all the better. Guide your customers by asking specific questions. That way you’ll get specific feedback, versus, “Dave did a good job this year.”

Ask questions like:

  • What’s one thing I did this year that made the most difference to you or your department?
  • What’s one thing I could have done differently this past year?

Don’t be scared to ask for feedback from your customers. Most people are so hesitant to give negative feedback that they’ll typically be easier on you than you are on yourself.

Most performance appraisals only contain feedback from the last few months of the year. As managers sit in front of a blank appraisal form, it’s all they can remember. It’s your job to help your manager remember all the good things you did throughout the year. And I don’t know of a manager who won’t appreciate having written, bulleted data from which to write appraisals. Bullets are easier to read than paragraphs. Make it easy to scan your list of accomplishments.

Writing performance appraisals doesn’t have to give you a headache. Receiving appraisals doesn’t have to make you wish you stayed home that day. Plan specific, useful feedback conversations and then move on to planning for 2013.

Managers, here’s a video I created on how to give a useful performance appraisal. And my new book How to Say Anything to Anyoneis perfect preparation for both managers and employees. The book won’t be in bookstores or on Amazon until January, but we have advance copies on our website.

 


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