We all know feedback is important, but how is your feedback received? When you say, “Good job,” you want to think your employee feels a sense of accomplishment and will keep performing at the same level. On the other hand, when you say,”That job needs improvement,” you would like to think that the person you said it to wants to improve for the next time. Surprisingly, what professor Avraham Fluger at the Hebrew University in Israel found through his research, was that there was no difference between positive and negative feedback in being effective. Stunning! He says, on average, feedback improved performance somewhat, but in 38% of the experiments, performance went down.”
Looking further into the causes of this, Professor Fluger found that “why” employees do their job related tasks is the key. Do they do things because they want to do them? Or do they perform their job tasks out of necessity? He gives two examples of how positive feedback can be received. If you love, and really care about what you do, any positive feedback will motivate you even more. On the other hand, if you are doing something out of necessity, positive feedback will have the opposite effect. He uses filling out an expense form. If you get praised for doing a good job, you’re more likely to tell yourself you overdid it and slack off next time.
So how do we figure out why our employees are doing what they do? Kluger suggests a different approach. He posits that an evaluation should start with a question to identify an employee’s past success build on that positive experience. This starting question is: “Could you please tell me a story about a situation at work during which you felt at your best, full of life and in the flow, and you were content even before the results of your actions were known?” See the difference? The interview is already starting out on a positive note with the employee thinking about why they like the job. From there the interviewer asks questions to determine the peak moment of that experience in order to capture the feelings of that moment.
The next question will identify the conditions that allowed that experience to happen. What was going on with you? What did the organization do that made that experience possible? And how did your co-workers influence the experience?
Finally, the interviewer will ask, “To what extent are your current behaviors at work or your plans for the immediate future taking you closer to, or further from, that conditions that allowed you to succeed in that previous success?”
From there the employer can get a good picture of what the employee needs to succeed and the employee cans see how that success came about and gain a better sense of how to duplicate those conditions. Together the manager and the worker are now motivated to re-create those conditions and set things in motion to repeat the success.
Professor Kluger calls this the feedforward method. At its core, it’s about listening. His contention is that providing a safe environment to share what works is the most effective way to bring about change. People usually know what’s wrong, what they’re not doing well on the job, but they can’t see it if they feel threatened, that their job is at risk. Think about how different you would feel about going to you annual review if you knew you were going to work together with your manager to make the workplace fit your ideals for success! That’s quite different from identifying your short-comings and hearing what you need to do to conform to the “company way.”
If given the space and accepted for who they are, most employees will come to their own realization of what they need to do to succeed.
Source: A smarter alternative to worker reviews. Rex Huppke. Carroll County Times. 8/9/2015
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