Don’t Sweep Feedback Under the Rug

Posted on Jun 23, 2010 | 41 comments


There are two things that have really surprised me in my years in “management”

1. How few people give their employees real feedback on a regular and formal basis

2. How much employees crave this information, whether positive or negative

So my message to you if you work in a position where you have people reporting to you – don’t sweep feedback under the rug – even if it’s negative.  Employees will always appreciate honest and constructive criticism over nothing.  So here’s some guidelines for you if you’re currently on the “less than annual” plan

Where to Start?
It’s pretty tough to review somebody and judge the quality of their work if you haven’t given them any guidelines for what you expect up front.  So start there.  You don’t have to over do it and make this some big complicated process thing.  I hate process.  I suck at it.  But I think I’m pretty good at feedback.  You can start with just a bullet point list with a list of functions that you expect the person reporting to you to complete or manage depending on their seniority.  Sit down for 30 minutes and say, “I’d like to walk you through a high-level list of the things I expect from you on this job.  I reserve the right to add to this over time and will probably do so verbally.  If there’s anything you would expect to be part of your job function that’s not listed please let me know and we’ll add it if it’s agreed.”

How Frequently?
When I worked in consulting we did reviews at the end of every project and at a minimum we did quarterly reviews.  I find this to be too much overhead for most startups.  My view is that you get one formal review per year and one informal sit down at the midway point.  If I give each of my direct reports one honest, thorough, well written review every year I’m doing better than 90% of everybody else so that’s valuable.

How to Structure it?
There are lots of standardized forms out there.  They have all sorts of rating systems.  In the old days we had numbers: 1-3.  Then we morphed into 1, 2-, 2, 2+, 3.  Now many big companies don’t have numbers, they have sayings like, “exceeds expectations on a frequent basis, over delivers against expectations, does what is asked, etc.”  They’re all BS.  At Salesforce we had something called the V2MOM.  Everybody internally laughed at it but Marc talked it up so people sort of had to take it seriously.  A bunch of internal Grin F*&^ing if you ask me.

Numbers don’t matter.  They’re just a way of trying to quantify something that, let’s be honest, is subjective anyway.  Unless you work in sales and you can compare cold, hard numbers let’s just be honest about the subjectivity.

Here’s all you need – 3 sections:  Positives, Things that Need to Improve, Things to Work on During the Year (or whatever words you like that represent these).  I like to do a numbered list for each area.

I start by brainstorming the headlines like, positives: “completes tasks with very little supervision,” “shows initiative,” or “is detailed oriented and rarely makes mistakes,” or negatives: “has a strong opinion that comes across as condescending to peers or subordinates,” “has a hard time prioritizing tasks and therefore works on a lot of low-priority initiatives” or “lacks structured decision-making ability.”  Whatever.  I finish this complete list for the entire review before doing any text.  I want to make sure at the structure level that it sounds about right.

I next write a paragraph to describe what I mean by each comment.  I then make sure to flavor it with examples that I have throughout the year.  I try to keep little notes to remind me of instances or else it ends up being a review of the last 6 weeks that you can actually remember.  If you don’t have a single example of an instance that proves your point then leave it out.  Shame on you for having an area of strength or weakness without a real example.  That will never fly.  Next time write it down when it happened.

The “areas to work on during the year” is one of the most important sections.  It is those things that you’d like to see improved.  If the person acts on these things it should make YOUR life better and your company more productive.  And presumably if you’re right about your assessments it should make the employee a better worker and benefit them long term.

At the end of the evaluation I like to do a summary paragraph of the flavor of the evaluation.

Self Evaluations?
Don’t have your staff write their own reviews.  That’s chicken sh**.  That’s lazy.  I’m so tired of hearing companies that do this.  I know even Google employees who had to do this.  If you don’t have the time, insights and responsibility to write your direct reports annual evaluations (read: one time per year!!) then don’t pretend you’re a manager OR a leader.  You’re neither.

How to Deliver it?
Don’t send it in advance.  Don’t have them read it and get back to you.  Your goal is to deliver the news face-to-face.  Good news should be delivered in person, bad news should be delivered in person.  You need to judge the person’s reactions on the spot.  Are they pumped up by what a great employee you told them they were?  Are they pissed off because you mentioned that they need to focus more on delivering error-free work?

I like to print one copy – the one in my hand.  I read each paragraph to the employee.  I stop after each paragraph to have a discussion.  Does this sound like what you would expect?  I start with the positives.  I remind people how important they are to me and how much I appreciate all that they’ve done during the year.  It’s a bit like telling your parents you love them.  You keep meaning to do it but you never quite get around to it because it’s actually embarrassing to say out loud.  But they hugely appreciate it.  So do employees.  Put it in writing.  Say it.

If it’s not a good review you need to say it more so.  I usually preface bad news by saying something like, “listen, I’m not saying all of this to be a jerk.  My goal is to give you my honest, professional judgment of where you need to improve in order to make progress in your career at our company and beyond.  I hope that if you take this seriously it will help you grow.  So I’m not saying to simply criticize.”

Not all conversations like this go well.  But surprisingly 90% of them do.  The most common response is something like, “yeah, it’s tough to hear that in a review.  But the truth is that I know that about myself.  I can see that I’m too combative and condescending.  That I always try to prove that I’m right.  But nobody has ever laid it out this clearly in an evaluation before.  I think most people sweep it under the rug.  Confronting this is going to make me try to work to improve myself.  Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed review and giving real examples.”  I  normally do about 4-5 pages of single space type per evaluation.

How to Revise it?
At the start of the review I say, “listen, I may have gotten some thing wrong.  If you feel any area is too harsh or that I’ve put in unfair details please let me know.  Substantively your evaluation isn’t going to change but if I’ve screwed up any details I’m willing to change it.  So please read over and respond to me within 72 hours with areas you think need to be corrected.  70% of the time they ask for no changes. But sometimes you really did miss something or get something wrong.  If that’s the case then change it.  But let them know before hand that you won’t automatically accept a change just because they request it.  It really needs to be based in fact and with examples.

Why you Need to File It.
Make sure that all evaluations are filed in a personnel file.  Mostly you’ll never do anything with this.  It won’t be shared with future employers.  It won’t likely be used for an actions in your company.  But it’s an important signal to your employee that this is a serious document.  It is one that has a permanent filing in your HR files.  It is something to be taken seriously.  It is something to be exceeded next year.

How to Handle Disputes?
Sometimes people won’t agree with your assessments.  But you want to get a signed copy on the file.

Round 1: they get to give you feedback on any point on the document that they want.  If you think they’re right then amend the document.  If you think they’re wrong, say so.

Round 2: if they’re so unhappy that they’re unwilling to sign the document as-is, then let them write a 1-2 paragraph rebuttal at the end of the review.  Add it to the formal paperwork that will be signed.  But the rest of the document stands.

How to Make Sure it is a Productive Tool?
The key to making this document productive is to make it a discussion.  That’s where the real value comes.  If you write it really quickly before your one-on-one meeting to get it done then it’s a waste.  If you have your employee write it it’s a waste.  If you can’t give concrete examples to your staff member it’s a waste.  This should serve as a catalyst.  It should encourage both reflection and a guideline for the next 12 months.  If you take the time to be thoughtful, structured and thorough it will usually confirm what the employee already knows about themselves but nobody had ever laid it out so clearly for them.

In many cases I have employees who have thanked me years later.  Or some who probably secretly still think I’m a wanker.  Better a wanker who tried than a fence sitter or lazy bugger.  But never sweep feedback under the rug.

  • http://www.conorneill.com Conor

    Direct and powerful. I spent 9 years in Accenture and received and delivered my fair share of employee feedback forms. I did plenty of “self assessment” (which was often lazy boss doesn't care to write it himself).

    There is a question that I think should frame all thinking in the process of preparing feedback for an employee: “Would I enthusiastically re-hire this person?” If there is a pause or any doubt… then this is feedback that the employee needs. I think Ken Blanchard's book “The One Minute Manager” is the best way to deliver the feedback – positive on the person, harsh on the tasks.

    Jim Collins in Good to Great tells us step 1 of becoming a great company: “Get the right people on the bus.”

    This is a direct, clear blog post. Thanks.

  • bethtemple4u

    Great article – hope it goes viral! Can't say enough about how important feedback is to any company, but especially a growing one!

  • Mat

    Good article.
    I would disagree about having the employee write their own review. If that's the only review that gets written that's a problem – but having the employee sit down and evaluate themselves is useful for them, and can be useful for you (you get to see where their perceptions are different from your reality). You still have to write your own review before you see theirs, but it's a useful exercise.
    Plus – if you are grooming people for the next step, and that next step involves managing people, who better to practice writing reviews on than yourself?

  • http://www.crondog.com Peter

    I learned a great way to deliver “negative”/constructive feedback while at IBM:

    1. “I observed…{undesired behavior}”
    2. “It has the following impact…”
    3. “The following change must occur, or…”

    #1 helps eliminate opinion of the feedback giver. A behavior observed is a behavior observed. (How to do this is an art unto itself though.)

    #2 is critical. Most adults don't want to produce a negative impact, but often they don't even know they did.

    #3 is the opportunity for both parties to agree on what success/improvement looks like going forward. If done correctly, it will also help end the conversation on a positive note.

    (For the record, I was tempted to start this comment with “This article sucks” just for the comedic effect of giving negative feedback. Aren't you glad I didn't?) :)

  • http://twitter.com/Aerials24 Latif Nanji

    Feedback is at the heart of personal growth – great post.

    Young companies struggle with this mechanism, and thats largely impart to the lack of 'how to execute' on this process without offending or hurting someones feeling. Since I've recently joined Toastmasters I've learned that feedback should always start positive before moving to the negative, followed by specifics, and most importantly choosing your words carefully – the hardest of them all.

    At our company, we just implemented a tool called Rypple (http://www.rypple) that tracks bi-weekly/quarterly goals and we have biweekly 1:1's to manage SMART goals between managers and their teams. It also allows for anonymous feedback and a place to give Kudos to anyone in the company for going above and beyond.

    Looking forward to the next post!

  • http://moolave.tk/ Fred T

    Good news should be delivered in person, bad news should be delivered in person.

    I wish everybody would adhere to this most personable form of communication. I hear lots of bad news being sent through email or word of mouth, and of course it only adds fuel to the fire.

    No matter what kind of important information is to be delivered, may it be performance reviews or company outlook, personal delivery brings accountability and ownership to the person willing to deliver it.

  • http://10pens.com sikakkar

    Awesome post Mark – one thing that my last employer did that I really liked was each year they would compare your positives to the previous year's “things to improve”. You would need to show progress, otherwise you know you're just treading water, and that's just no good for anyone.

    Another thing that helped was each person was asked to complete a list of accomplishments during the previous year. I think being able to provide that year after year also gave a good picture of what your career at the firm looked like. Was more getting done? Was your impact increasing or decreasing? Very important questions to answer, and it was really useful that these were well documented.

  • http://www.CleverKoala.com Mike Lewis

    The section on “How to Handle Disputes?” is some pretty solid advice. People need to feel that they are heard, even if you don't agree with what they are saying. Taking a “Just sign the damn document already…” approach is a quick way to burn up your internal support.

    If you both disagree at the end of it, allow both parties to voice their side and get it on record. This is a great way to dock disputes, and an excellent springboard into what needs to happen in the future.

    Keep them doing the good work that you both liked, and agree upon a way to address the disputed points so that everybody is happy next time around. For all you know, the dispute arose because you set crappy goals or gave vague direction. This is an opportunity to fix that.

  • Avi Singer

    Mark-

    Good post, I agree with most of what you said.
    On the numbers piece though I have to disagree though. Employee's do want some quantifiable way of knowing where they stand. Sometimes that gets lost in the qualitative feedback. There is nothing wrong with saying “right now you're a 3 and here's what it would take to become a 5″.

    I wrote a little post on this a while back. http://wp.me/pnZCI-1O

  • philsugar

    Great post, I agree that getting somebody to write their own review or having peer reviews sucks.

    The only other comment I would make is specifically do not have it right before you give raises.

    Have it off cycle. If you tie it into that process people will get super defensive about it. Yes how you are performing is going to effect your raise but if you do both at the exact same time I've always had much more conflict versus productive discussion

  • mhjohnson100

    Great post.

    I recommend this site: http://www.manager-tools.com/
    It has a huge amount of content on multitude of management topics including feedback. They also have a bunch of premium content, but the free content is all super helpful and will give you plenty to think about.

  • Matt Cameron

    Great post – One thing I would add is if a leader is doing their job properly, feedback given during a review should never come as a surprise. The time for feedback and coaching should never be limited to bi-annual formal processes alone – People need guidance throughout the year so that they don't dig themselves a hole and get a shock at review time.

    Equally, people that are beating expectations need to know that – Psychology tells us that good behaviour that goes unrewarded tends to stop.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks for the input, Conor. Yes, if there is any doubt they need the feedback. But even star performers need feedback and appreciate it.

    I just gave some to a CEO today. He's a star and I love him. But he also has some weaknesses (as do I!). I pointed them out in the spirit of “here is my point of view – not necessarily right – but if it resonantes with you then let's work on it.”

    His response, “you're totally right. I've known that about myself. I appreciate your mentioning it. It will be critical to me in the next phase of the business.”

    He's still a star.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    You make some good points. I think it might be an idea to ask the employee to prepare bullet points on how they perceive their strengths & weaknesses plus what they want to work on for the next year and then compare to what you produce. But 99% of the time I see it as a tool managers use to be lazy.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Ha. I love your approach and will see how I can work it into my routine. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Latif. I did Toastmasters for 2 years myself and really enjoyed it and learned. I always start with positive, then areas to improve (words always chosen carefully), what we'll work on in the next year and then a summary. The reason for the summary is to make sure to finish things on a high note (or if really bad performance at least a summarization of where things stand).

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agree 100%. One of the down sides of modern communication is that we all too often rely on email or phone for things that sometimes require face-to-face communications.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Great points. I didn't cover it. But having a review done annually and on file is a good way to compare year-over-year and that is vital. Thank you.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes, I think having the dispute resolution at least gives the employee an “on record” voice without the manager having to consent to that POV. That's why I like it. But it has to be used within reason, not a complete re-write of the evaluation.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yeah, I hear ya. But my main point is that even numbers are just subjective. We always use numbers to make it seem like our results are more scientific. I think the real value is in the comments. People hide behind numbers as a quick way to get a review done without doing the heavy lifting. But in large companies numbers help for comparative purposes. Only problem is – my 4 may be different from somebody else's 4. In the end, it's still subjective.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I agree. I thought about addressing this but worried that the pay discussion in the post would detract from my main message. But I totally agree. The reason that most feedback sessions are contentious is that the employee feels that the messages are tied to the next year's pay. Off cycle is a great suggestion. Thanks for mentioning.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    100%. I was thinking about this also and was bummed I didn't sneak it into the post so thank you for mentioning it.

    I meant to have a statement that was, “No end-of-year feedback should be a big surprise. Don't save the feedback for an 'aha moment' at the end of the year. But also don't give it immediately when a mistake is made. Best to let the situation calm down and then have a rational conversation after the fact. I've learned that one the hard way again and again.”

  • http://www.nabbr.com MattMinoff

    About to embark on this process. Thanks for a fantastic playbook to draw from.

  • dereklicciardi

    For my employees, the review process starts during the interview process before they are ever hired. I believe that performance is a function of the person and their environment. Therefore, it is critical to find the person that most closely fits the job in both immediate need and value to the employee's career.

    People are overqualified for positions.
    Some people take a position simply for the money while yearning to do something else.
    Companies pay workers top dollar salaries and then give them sub-standard old tools to work with all the time. (I'm typing this from a Pentium 4 Celeron desktop… Not kidding)
    The list goes on…

    Those situations have to impact performance which in turn impacts the effectiveness of any review process. For a review to be effective, I like to make sure that I'm reviewing the person's performance sans the environment. Environment issues are something that I need to fix that few employees will speak frankly about until they leave. However, because I have a solid foundation created in the interview process, I can evaluate performance against changes in that foundation to determine if the review needs to reflect things that the person needs to improve upon or if I need to make changes to the environment. At the same time, I get the benefit of knowing when someone is outgrowing the job they are in or when they have been promoted one position too high. None of that is possible without laying the job expectations out in front of the candidate during the interview process and then anytime the expectations change when they are an employee. Managers that don't actively work towards maintaining a good environment for workers undermine the effectiveness of the review process from the outset.

  • philsugar

    Latif how does the anonymous feedback work?

    I have always found that anonymous feedback degenerates into a chicken shit way for gossipy, political employees to smear others.

    When I first started having a lot of employees I'd have people come into my office and say this and that about so and so.

    I'd ask did you talk to them about it? No. Lets all sit down and discuss it. Oh no I don't want them to know I said it.

    I quickly (not fast enough) learned this was just back-biting behavior, and I would put this in their review….it ended a ton of office politics.

  • philsugar

    I think its kind of sadistic to ask a person to criticize themselves.

    Write down your accomplishments and what you were most proud of and what you tried to improve.

    But all reviews should have areas for improvement. I mean what is the person going to say?? Most people try to hide or overcome their weaknesses.

  • http://twitter.com/Aerials24 Latif Nanji

    Thanks for your note Phil.

    The political game itself sounds like it has a bit of a cultural undertone to it – we stress that communication and transparency of information as part of the culture to try and prevent those issues. We also do daily standups (15 min max) which are not only used in engineering (part of SCRUM/Agile dev), but for everyone in operations as a tool to let people speak their mind and communicate any issues or problems that arose from the previous day, and what problems they need help solving today.

    As for Rypple…. they have made the anonymous feedback useful for the following reasons:

    -They teamed up Marshall Goldsmith (his books are amazing) and Stephan Miles coaching managers on feedback (http://rypple.com/webinars)
    -The person who wants feedback asks a specific group or team of people and those response are always anonymous (for eg. I asked my team of 4, 'What can I do better as a Product Manager').

    Aside: Rypples 'Kudos' are becoming a huge part of our culture. Think of it as a Facebook timeline where people can only complement others for work they done. This has created an extremely positive atmosphere in the company and set the stage for more constructive criticism to take people during 1:1's.

  • philsugar

    Thanks for the detailed response.

    I think once you get to a certain size (around 100) you will always get some politics you just have to watch it (its one of the reasons I like small teams)

    Sounds like a good well thought out system. If the anonymous part is requested by the person getting the feedback, I could see that working well.

  • Brian

    I have to agree with Mat. Asking people to criticize themselves is hardly sadistic. It's an important skill. You're not asking them to point out every mistake made in the review period, you're asking them to tell you what they think they did well, what they could have done better at and what they plan to work on over the next review period. Anything they fill out should be on one sheet of paper and it should not become their formal review, but rather included as part of the documentation that is kept on file with a proper review.

    As a manager, you would be amazed at the alignment that can come out of an employee's self review when combined with a thorough review by management. (BTW Mark, I really liked this post with the exception of the self-review thing). If you are honest with your employee's, they should feel that they can be open in their self assessment, and have your support to grow. You see better performance, culture and retention. Everybody wins.

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    You indirectly refer to this, but to emphasize: sometimes employees don't work out. In my experience, it's always the weakest employees that get all litigious. You need reviews signed by both parties to cover your ass.

    I agree with you about the limited value in number rankings. Separately, I like the theory of 360 degree reviews, and have tried anonymous upward reviews, but to mixed success because anonymity is usually impossible. I think the best way to review middle management is to talk privately with their reports one on one, and then figure out how to give productive feedback without putting the subordinate at risk.

  • philsugar

    Sorry I think the biggest advantage of a small company is that you can fire shit-birds….they always complain but when you call them on it they know what they are.

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    Oh I think you should fire bad eggs no matter how big or small you are – a bad egg can really drag morale and performance down – but i've just had personal experience with the legal complications and just think it dots the i on the “importance” of doing this.

  • http://starttowonder.blogspot.com Sachin Jain

    Reviews are good in big companies but i am not sure an yearly review in a start up is a good idea.
    Unless its a relaxed start up, the person working there would be working on multiple things and things change very fast. Plus, there are hardly any processes that are constant and followed completely. Reviewing things all at once would not be appropriate. No matter what, the manager is likely not to know all the information about the the employee for all things he worked on.

    Plus, since the organisation is small, a formal review might create unnecessary competition between employees especially star employees if a number is given at the review. A big motivation for star employees is they want to be the star. Though the numbers could only differ because the managers reviewing could be different in terms being liberal and conservative in terms of giving out numbers, the resulting numbers might create unhealthy competition. So, reviews and handing out grades or numbers is very dangerous.

    I think for start ups a better approach would be for managers, to go for coffee every two months or so and have like one on one. This way, the employee would know what to improve and what is expected of him. Also, manager would know if the employee is having any issues he is struggling with. Whereas if its an annual thing, reviews might just come and go. After all the objective of the company for review is to make the employee perform better than just have a review for the name of having it.

  • http://blog.dylansalisbury.com/ Dylan Salisbury

    Great article — I wanted to add some points to accent:

    Gather peer feedback. It's easier for you to deliver a message (positive or negative) if you can honestly say it's backed up by feedback from multiple peers.

    If you have a high performer, your job is not to help her improve her weaknesses. Your job is to structure her role so she spends more time doing the things she's great at, and to cover for her weaknesses. (This is the basic theme of the book “First, Break all the Rules.”)

    Don't neglect to do this for your executives and top employees. Marc Andreessen wrote about this at http://pmarchive.com/guide_to_startups_part8 : “While respecting someone's experience and skills, you should nevertheless manage every executive as if she were a normal employee. This means weekly 1:1's, performance reviews, written objectives, career development plans, the whole nine yards.”

    I think the only use of a scoring system is to ensure that evaluations done by different managers are comparable and not unduly influenced by politics. This means (1) very small organizations have no need for them, and (2) in larger organizations the managers need to meet, discuss their people's performance, and align their scores in a very honest and candid manner.

  • http://www.repeatablesale.com/ Scott Barnett

    I'm a little surprised at your formality Mark – this all makes perfect sense in a larger company, but I would think a startup should have a more frequent (and informal) feedback loop than once or twice a year? I'm a huge fan and believer of open and honest communication, and the more often, the better. Hard to do as you grow, but in the early days, quick course corrections (which generally requires flexibility that people don't naturally possess) is crucial. Keeping people focused on what they're doing well and what needs improvement in a startup has to happen more frequently and bi-directionally, IMHO.

  • http://www.dantiernan.com/blog/ dantinpa

    My favorite feedback method for non-sales people is via quarterly MBO goals. Just like with sales people, how much do you care about the individual skills as compared to the RESULTS! This does not work for all jobs, but is great for those people that need to accomplish specific goals that vary from quarter to quarter. At the beginning of the quarter – what are the 3-5 most important goals for the quarter? They need to be well defined and measureable – e.g. Complete go-live at Customer X and transition to support by 15-July. At the end of the quarter, the Project Manager provides feedback on performance vs. the goals – on a zero to 100% scale. Then the cycle starts again. Since priorities sometimes change during the course of quarter, we typically review the goals on a monthly basis to see if adjustments are required. I like to tie a significant quarterly bonus to these, so the cycle must go on . . . and the feedback is more complete. Does not work everywhere, but it is a great way to make sure that people's priorities are straight and they not just working, but actually completing things.

  • http://blog.teamly.com/about Scott Allison

    “It’s pretty tough to review somebody and judge the quality of their work if you haven’t given them any guidelines for what you expect up front”

    “If I give each of my direct reports one honest, thorough, well written review every year I’m doing better than 90% of everybody else so that’s valuable.”

    “You don’t have to over do it and make this some big complicated process thing. I hate process. “

    In a high growth business once a year is possibly not enough; although doing it more often can be a big overhead on the manager, as to do it right takes time, effort and thought.

    In my last business we followed similar annual review process as you descirbe plus quareterly mini-reviews.

    But I found something was lacking, good feedback and communication was left to chance throughout the rest of the year, and it wasn't till we started asking everyone to define their “top 5″ priorities (for each week and month) that things really took off. This was something I learned from Cameron Herold, the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK; they used the technique which helped grow that company 50 fold in just a few years.

    Using regular priority setting was great for the employee as it helped them get clear on what was really important and for the manager it was great because they could see what their team thought was important and could correct any “mistakes” quickly.

    My new start-up, Teamly, has now built a web app which assists and makes this process straightforward. Because it builds a history of the employees achievements (or otherwise) it makes the formal HR review so much better because there are now facts to base it on rather than relying on one person's memory of what did, or did not happen.

    We just launched our public beta on Friday and if you want to try it or take the tour visit http://teamly.com

  • Bill

    Well said! Far too many companies just go through the motions of providing feedback to employees.

    On a related note, do you recommend that managers solicit written feedback on their performance from their direct reports?

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  • http://twitter.com/Lana_L Lana_Lodge

    I kind of agree with Phil. I think it’s really hard to see who the gossipy people are sometimes, and I mean gossip is part of human nature (Do you find Joe’s been abrasive lately? Yeah I know eh? I’m glad it’s not just me. I thought maybe I did something to upset him. Guys I think his dog just died. OMG We should treat him to sushi, I heard he loves sushi.) lol but people who are actually underhandedly trying to make others look bad to make themselves look good pop up all the time, and most people don’t expect it so I think it goes noticed more often than we think.
    I think a good transparent work environment can help mitigate this behaviour because of it’s established social unacceptability, but you’re still going to get people who will do that stuff to get ahead who slip through the cracks. Anonymity can help those people.
    Psychopaths are really good at this, and there’s a lot more of them around in the working world than you’d think. I think anonymous feedback is great if it’s also private for the person receiving it, or like above, only given when it’s asked for with specific questions, or asked of a specific team of people. Takes away some of the anonymity/vagueness from the answers.

  • http://www.nabbr.com MattMinoff

    Just revisited this post again as I prepare for end of year feedback sessions with our team.  It gets better every time I read it.