Communicate feedback effectively for performance improvement.

Performance Improvement Starts with Useful Feedback

No one can be held accountable without standards, goals, or rules to strive towards. People can’t adhere to those things without effective communication. That’s how many of us improve in different aspects of life – when we can track against goals and receive feedback for our efforts. Hence the existence of corporate performance reviews! Love them or hate them. Performance reviews are an organization’s attempt to effectively keep the lines of communication and feedback open between managers and employees. 

Common Feedback Challenges Managers Face

Understandably, managers often have a conflicted relationship with performance reviews. That is because managers usually face endless tasks that come with leading and managing a team. As a result, adding another “thing” can be overwhelming. As a manager, you have to be clear about where performance management stops and development for improvement begins. On the other hand, how can you be sure you’re doing either? These check-ins and opportunities for feedback are important. It’s not often an employee gets to focus on their role and career.

In recent years, organizations have invested a lot of money and time into training managers to give feedback and coach employees. Yet, a lot of those companies are still struggling to convince managers to engage in this activity with their direct reports and other employees. Essentially, the training has done a good job of overwhelming managers. This includes providing them with more emails, chats, reminders, and running comment threads. What it hasn’t done is increase engaging conversations. These conversations can result in ownership and performance improvement.

Ideally, feedback conversations are meant to be meaningful and valuable, not just frequent. But many organizations have merely increased the frequency of feedback as if that alone would affect its meaningfulness and usefulness. Performance management systems and platforms can now track and document all of these conversations, not just formal reviews and agreements. Managers are now expected to improve feedback capacity and coaching capability. Therefore, provide both more consistent and better feedback to employees all in addition to delivering business results. It makes sense logically, but in practice, it’s a process that doesn’t address relationships and the nature of how successful relationships really work.

Managers Need to Remember What It is All About – Performance is Personal

When it comes down to it, performance improvement only comes through one person at a time. Thus, making the choice to take ownership for how they perform. Additionally, it requires time and dedication in providing quality attention and information that is specific and useful to the individual. Feedback is the primary communication skill to use in order to achieve accountability. As a result, it can fuel ownership of the effort to generate greater performance. In reality, accountability demands more than just feedback. However, this one communication piece is the unifying muscle group (your core) that can move you from sitting to standing. In other words, it can move you from ownership of performance into ownership for development of performance.

So, the next time your company’s internal performance system reminds you to get your quarterly performance review submitted or to schedule a check-in with an employee, embrace the time being carved out and dedicated to that individual to communicate feedback effectively. Leverage it as an opportunity to connect. Apply real accountability to achieve greater performance down the road.


Ready to step up to the plate and really explore what accountability can accomplish in practice? Read my book, OwnUp! How To Hold People Accountable Without All The Drama.