Five Steps for Lasting Results in Performance Feedback


Are you ready to provide effective performance feedback?

Performance management is the ongoing investment of time characterized by project leaders who regularly provide honest, encouraging feedback. It also takes the form of support, coaching and advice. On some project teams, the act of providing performance feedback is a lost art. Successful project leaders establish a culture of emotional engagement, innovation, self-organization and results-building. They take the time to provide performance feedback for lasting results.

Performance feedback for lasting results relies on relationships, not just rules and structure. Team members are trusted as self-determining professionals who learn to take feedback and integrate their activities by self-organizing the information discussed, generating new ideas for improvement, and lasting results.

In the book “Future Work,” the authors suggest a more productive, people-friendly work style that includes trust in people, rewarding output, and treating everyone as an individual. Performance is determined by results. These work environments exist with team member input and agreement about how work is done, rather than relying on strict rules and procedures for the team.

Performance feedback for lasting results advances this idea by promoting improved relations with team members, increasing team member productivity, improving project leader productivity, focusing on individual and team results, improving motivation, and implementing realistic expectations.

Building on a foundation of clear objectives, trust in people, and the importance of relationships, performance feedback works best when project leaders use the following five skill points:

  1. Ask for the team member’s own view of their performance followed by your evaluation of his/her performance.
  2. Identify what would help maintain or improve the performance.
  3. Ask the team member to identify specific steps or actions to achieve the improvement.
  4. Provide as-needed input and agree on a plan . . . in writing.
  5. Get the team member’s commitment and set up a time for review . . . at least once a quarter.

Performance feedback for lasting results means following these steps and providing feedback regularly. This builds trust that the project leader is truly interested in the team member’s success and results. In addition, feedback should not be given only during times of perceived failure, when team members could view performance feedback as punitive in nature.

The book “Corporate Culture and Performance” makes a case for the kind of culture that promotes performance enhancement and how it can lead to success or failure. The researchers present an 11-year study of 12 companies that had this culture and 20 that didn’t, illustrating the importance of a performance-driven culture. Of the companies with performance-enhancing cultures, the average increase in revenue growth was 682 percent, as opposed to 166 percent that did not have performance-enhancing cultures.

Because performance is such a key to motivating team members, and because motivated team members produce improved results, project leaders need to take a longer view of what this kind of investment can mean to project success.

Performance management includes training project leaders, too. Research indicates that the typical struggles project leaders face in delivering performance feedback can be overcome by training them on the key skills of performance feedback conversations and then teaching them how to structure these conversations so that team members buy-in to their own performance improvement and overall productivity.

For more on successful performance management, check out Learning Tree’s course Management Skills for an IT Environment.

James L. Haner

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