-Taken from the book, Fair Talk by Sergey Gorbatov and Angela Lane
You are committed to performance and improving the self-awareness of your team members. You want to motivate them to positively grow through new, productive habits.
For this to happen you need to provide feedback to your team members and not just any feedback but a FAIR one!
Here are 3 points you should keep in mind for giving fair feedback!
It is common sense (and also supported by research) that consistency in evaluations is a strong predictor of perceptions of fairness. Consistency doesn’t mean treating everyone alike. In this context, it means interpreting the same set of modifiers similarly.
To do this, make sure that there are “constant, clearly established, explicitly stated feedback standards that are always known and consistent across employees”. You may have an HR team that enforces performance rating definitions and conducts calibration sessions to try to bring that consistency. Be kind to them! They know that consistency is part of what makes us feel that the process is fair.
FEEDBACK ON WHAT AND ON HOW, NOT ON WHO–IN OTHER WORDS, IT’S NOT PERSONAL!
Fair feedback targets the outcomes and behaviours, not the person. The moment we perceive that our self-image (ego) is under threat, our brain fires up to tackle that threat.
We start to get creative about finding ways to uphold our self-image or to manage the impressions of others. We rationalize (e.g. “Here are five reasons why it’s not my fault”), we deflect (e.g. “This is not the real issue we must deal with here”), we enhance (e.g. “My project results are so much better than everyone thinks!”) and more.
Our mental bandwidth is absorbed and our attention diverted from the task at hand: processing feedback that would enhance our performance. As a leader, your role is to cut through the defensiveness and establish your expectations for the future.
You must deal with both the what and the how. By focusing on work results and how those were achieved, you stay at the performance level. By focusing on observable behaviour and not on the personal characteristics, you reduce the risk of triggering those emotions. Employees will be less defensive.
So, if you hear an employee trying to avoid, deflect or refute the message, emphasize the current work output or behaviours.
USE FEEDBACK MODIFIERS
Start by taking into account the circumstances around the performance. These factors act to modify the feedback you give. For example, your feedback would be different for two employees with the same results if one were new to the role and the other a seasoned pro.
Before sharing your observations, filter for the 3 Cs – capability, characteristics and context – and then formulate your feedback.
Additionally, before sharing your feedback, you will need to check it for consistency. Ensure that it targets the outcomes you want. And use non-judgemental language and assume positive intent.
Sales rights of the book are restricted to South Asia only!
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