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Why is providing feedback so hard?

Having worked for and with various companies over the years, I can tell you that it’s extremely rare to come across a company with a sound process for providing performance feedback. Almost always, groans and eye rolls accompany any discussion about personnel reviews.

Why is that?

Typically, I hear two things: either that managers are “too busy” to be bothered with providing any type of formalized feedback for their staff, or managers believe their staff know where they stand so why bother? But what’s the real truth behind it? Many managers don’t like to address problematic performance.

It’s easy to praise people for doing a good job; it’s much harder to tell people they’re falling

short in expectations. But ignoring the issue is the most callous thing we can do. Very few people would not want to know if there’s a problem with their work. And how can we expect improvement if we don’t inform them of the problem?

As managers, we should be providing feedback much more frequently than once a year. Annual reviews should be abolished as they are not helpful. Often, I’ve seen positive reviews for an employee the manager actually wants to terminate! How can we argue an employee’s confusion when they face disciplinary action shortly after hearing things are fine?

The sooner you confront an issue, the easier it is to resolve it. Provide feedback often. If you see an issue, immediately address it. This provides the employee with the chance to explain what happened so you can determine if additional training is needed or simply a clarification of expectations and accountability. Not every person is appropriate for every job; if that’s the case, the quicker you both figure it out, the better for everyone. And if someone isn’t working as needed, addressing what’s expected is an easier fix if the problem hasn’t become a habit.

Talking with your staff about what you want/need is the right thing to do. Sticking your head in the sand until the problem becomes unavoidable doesn’t help you or your team.

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