If you’re going bake anything it’s important that you use the right ingredients and the right amount. Most people would say the essential ingredients are flour, baking powder, and sugar. While preferences may vary, without them you’ll run into trouble making your dish rise. Like baking, there’s a long list of “ingredients” a leader could include when providing performance feedback. But which ones will truly make performance rise?

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Let’s start off with pouring in some concepts of EQ. In less scholarly words, it means to know yourself and others. To be a good read of another persons emotional state. To use that to do your best at interacting with other people.

We all know things about ourselves that others don’t. What motivates, angers, delights or flat-out annoys us. All of which are associated with different emotions that alter our attitude thus how we interact with others.

The more self-aware we are of our emotional drivers the better we can control our attitude and behavior. For that reason, this makes EQ a valuable component of providing performance feedback.

EQ also consists of the ability to view situations from outside in. This means taking a step back to do a “self-check.” Then appropriately respond to the circumstances and person(s) involved.

Many of us have experienced or witnessed a situation where feedback went wrong from the very beginning. Poor management of EQ was likely a part of the mishap.

You must be in control of yourself. You must be considerate and communicate well enough to deliver the feedback in a receptive yet motivating way.

The key here though, is that effective performance feedback starts with you. The leader sets the tone. As the famous Rapper Ice Cube said in his 1992 hit song “check yo-self before you wreck yo-self,” and your team.

Be Consistent

Could you imagine walking into your home after a long day at work to an unexpected guest? You may feel somewhat clueless, shocked or even angry before deciding how to move forward.

Much like a surprise visitor, performance feedback should not be a surprise to an employee either!

In American football, a coach does not wait until the off-season to tell the players what needs to improve. Players expect instant feedback if they miss a block. Drop a good pass from the Quarterback. Score a much needed touchdown that could change the game.

Every player is accountable. They thrive on feedback to get better and if they are not getting it, they know that something is up. Continuous feedback is a part of their culture.

Likewise, in business, feedback needs to happen as often as there are opportunities to provide it. When an employee is meeting or exceeding expectations, let them know. When they are not, let them know. Waiting until annual review time to start pounding out an employee’s performance highs and lows will be a daunting task. Bringing up an incident neglected 8 months ago will be staggering.

As a leader, addressing performance even 30 days after the good or bad behavior occurred, is simply too late. Be prompt, be responsive and be consistent.

Build Momentum

The final ingredient is momentum. Leaders must build momentum to sustain effective performance.

This can be achieved through defining a framework that will help employee’s own new behaviors. Give them a model to follow, a repeatable process. Make it a point to celebrate progress, accountability, and desired outcomes that reinforce the model. Show the team how their improved performance directly impacts the organization.

Performance discussions are the most valuable interactions between a leader and employee. Because the organizations most valuable asset is it’s people.

Handling them well, from both sides, is critical. To drive organizational performance leaders must steer their teams towards higher levels of productivity through continuous feedback and development.

Stir it all in a bowl, place it in the oven, then watch performance rise.

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