Why we give feedback, we want to make another person aware of how we saw their performance. Sometimes it’s to say how great something was and how they should do it more often, sometimes it’s to course-correct and help them to be more effective in a given situation.
All too often, it’s too far removed from the situation to be truly useful. This time of year is the end of the annual performance cycle for many of us, and it might just be the only time you give or get feedback from a number of your peers.
Sticking to the annual cycle is super inefficient. Anything that happened more than a week ago will be really degraded in people’s minds. The situation will be hazy, the behaviour non-specific and the impact debateable. So you’ve lost at least 51 weeks worth of opportunities to give valuable feedback. Being 2% good at something is not where we want to be.
Instead, practice giving feedback as close to the activity as possible. Start off with things that went well. Be specific as to what you’d like to see more of. Ask for feedback yourself about specific recent situations, and practice taking it onboard well.
Giving positive feedback will usually be taken well! Showing you can take on suggestions from other will also make them more likely to listen to your own, it builds trust.
Then you can move on to the course corrections. If it’s close in time to the situation, then the correction is likely to be small, and easier to make. Rather than only having a week from a year to draw from, you can make those small positive changes early and often, and really build up momentum.
Finally, to make the performance review easy, capture some of these in the moment pieces of feedback in a more permanent form. Whether it’s Slack messages, emails or you just keeping a note of them, it’s a lot better to build up a picture of the last year with evidence, rather than what you can remember off the top of your head.
Feedback is super important, give it often, hit the positive as well as the course corrective and do it close to the situation and you’ll be massively more effective in the long run.