Fear of Feedback

Are you afraid of Feedback? Do you fear that twice a year sit down with your boss on work progress?

Why? I do too.

In fact, I have a deep-seated fear of personal feedback of all kinds, not just from my boss. From anyone.

My friend spilled his venom, of why his promotion had been delayed. His previous boss, a former judge had given him a “D” for his performance appraisal 2 years ago. Now he needs two consecutive “B” to override the “D”. What was more infuriating was that he had no idea what crime he had committed and no way to improve/ go for training. Duh…. His boss did not have the courtesy of having a face-to-face meeting with him. So the feedback came as a shock.

Performance management is painful for all sides. Both for the appraiser and appraised.  The appraiser is afraid of the emotional backlash. The appraised, for the negative feedback. If my boss were to call me up to her/his room, I doubt its to praise me. Ya, I’m too pessimistic.

So what does the research say concerning the performance appraisal process?

The appraisal process is about having a conversation around your performance. Not your boss as a judge passing a sentence.  Properly done, the process starts with setting planned objectives, on-going feedback, how I have met the agreed organisational goals and development needs (if I’ve not).  Remove any of these factors, and it becomes a moving goal-post.

With the best of intentions, some companies do this feedback process twice a year. Beginning, mid point (6 months later), and end of the year (6 months later).  Maybe its just me. I can’t even recall what I ate for lunch 2 days ago, and yet I am expected to remember how I pissed off my colleague.

There is a Chinese saying:

“Duo zuo duo chuo, sao zuo, sao chuo, bu zuo, bu chuo”.

“If you do a lot, you make more mistakes. do fewer, make fewer mistakes. Do nothing, make no mistakes.”

[Read in Chinese, make “no mistakes”, is a play of words and double meaning of “not bad’ = “good”. If you do nothing, you’ll be perceived as good.] It mocks those who are good at critiquing others from an ivory tower, but no efforts of their own. Ouch.

“The 3rd Century Chinese Wei dynasty is renowned for the advancements it made in the creation of a civil service. One of its innovations was something called the nine rank system, by which candidates were selected and categorized, based on their abilities. A bad ranking would wash a candidate right out of the system.

Chinese philosopher Sin Yu, complaining about the bias of the system: “The Imperial Rater of Nine Grades seldom rates men according to their merits but always according to his likes and dislikes,” he complained. Source: http://www.globoforce.com/gfblog/2013/the-exceedingly-curious-origins-of-performance-management/

Not everything that counts, can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts. – Albert Einstein, apparently from a sign hanging in his office.

Performance review nourishes short-term performance, annihilates long-term planning; builds fear, demolishes teamwork and nourishes rivalry and politics. – WE Deming 1982

 

How would you prepare for feedback exercise? Is it really useful?

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