From Performance Management to Effective Feedback

Some time ago I wrote about the vulnerabilities and fragility of performance management systems in most organisations and how, especially in schools, both leaders and those lead tend to dread the performance management process and see it as demotivating.

So, I was interested to see this video from Bluepoint leadership Development that approached the process of sharing feedback from a coaching perspective and emphasises modelling by the leader to seek and elicit/ invite feedback from others so as to develop a culture within which people get comfortable with feedback.

There needs to be acknowledgement that feedback isn't easy to give or receive, is inevitably emotional and linked to feelings of self and identity. therefore, it takes concerted practice, but as leaders we have to be willing to put in the hard work on this. Further, we have to acknowledge that it's one of those areas of professional skills where you can 'never be too good.'

There's always scope for us to raise the bar on our skills. For example, one aspect that I've had to work on over the years (and can still improve further) is the temptation, especially when time might be limited, to offer advice or even to take over the responsibility for finding the solution to an issue or problem on behalf of the employee. To be honest on this, of course, quite often the other person is only too happy if we will do the speaking (relieving them of the need to make a full and complete commitment). And, this is really what happens - if the ideas don't come from them about how to address the issue, then often they don't fully engage and can excuse themselves the accountability when they don't act. To address this, one of the things I know i need to do is be much more comfortable with silence!

Too often, I've been told by people in leadership roles in education that they're uncomfortable having challenging conversations that involve the sharing of frank, direct feedback. What results is too many situations where individuals aren't producing the desired performance or addressing a performance weakness, but when they are finally told the situation has become extreme. further, having not been given the feedback earlier they feel cheated, betrayed and hurt - especially as when the feedback finally comes and the dam breaks, it comes very strong and very challenging.

If we are to have great learning organisations in which people learn, develop and fulfil their potential we have to get far better at this business of feedback. To do this, we have to see the truth as something that we all owe to each other if we are genuinely serious about seeing people flourish and having our organisations grow and be the best they can be. Educators who can be open, frank and honest in their feedback to each other can model the skills necessary for the children and this can only serve them well for the future.

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