Better employee feedback: Focus on actions, not perceived performance

    Management guru Marcus Buckingham argues in the Harvard Business Review that the trend of companies giving tough, candid feedback to employees is often off base.

    As evidence of the trend, he points to recent popular books like Bridgewater Associates CEO Ray Dalio’s “Principles” and Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor,” the proliferation of employee survey tools and news reports about tough internal cultures at successful businesses.

    Yet, Buckingham, and co-author Ashley Goodall, a Cisco executive, suggest managers who focus so much on candid feedback are ignoring research that not only shows how hard it is for people to rate the performance of others, but also how difficult it is to standardize what excellent work looks like in different people.

    Buckingham says managers should focus on how an action by a direct report employee makes them feel and then relay that information to their staff, highlighting the positive outcome, instead of addressing performance they think is right or wrong.

    “Whenever you see one of your people do something that worked for you, that rocked your world just a little, stop for a minute and highlight it,” he writes. “ By helping your team member recognize what excellence looks like for them—by saying, “That! Yes, that!”—you’re offering them the chance to gain insight; you’re highlighting a pattern that is already there so that they can recognize it, anchor it, re-create it, and refine it. That is learning.” Read the full story. 

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