Improve performance through documented & transparent feedback

How should performance reviews and appraisals be handled effectively? A system of transparent and documented feedback gives long-lasting success. When your seniors and clients openly share how they think that you can improve, you have better chances at taking relevant action and getting ahead.

Are you managing a team and considering how performance of your team could be improved? Efficient coaching is a big part of the answer. When senior staff provides subordinates with frequent coaching and feedback, individual staff and the organization as a whole benefits.

Coaching is one of our core principles, and you can skip ahead to our coaching guidelines if you’re interested in how it’s done practically.

“Constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.” – Elon Musk

9 reasons why coaching is a must

1. Feedback leads to improvement

It’s as simple as that. If a team member doesn’t receive feedback and is always told “you’re doing a good job”, then why feel a need to change and improve?

More importantly they will not be aware of what is important for them to change for the company to become more successful. “You’re doing a good job, but please make an effort to improve the following…” will be more fruitful.

Handled the right way, coaching is a motivator. It allows colleagues to overcome their weaknesses and advance their careers faster.

2. Huge impact in the long term

You might have read about why systemic under-delegation is so detrimental to success in the value creation principle. Coaching is an important tool in combating systemic under-delegation.

If you can help your juniors to perform just a bit better every month, that will have great cumulative effects in the long term.

A junior recruiter might need sales skills training, that might make the difference required to convince a hesitant talented candidate. A junior admin might need better routines to improve organization and quality of documents to reduce senior involvement. They need reminders to stick to valuable routines.

Helping a junior developer attain bug-free deliverables could be a “client relationship saver”; I’m sure that those of you who are working as senior software developers can remember cases where a “small bug” wrecked havoc for the client, and where you as senior had to work hard to rebuild damaged rapport.

Helping that same developer write cleaner code is another high-impact example that could save countless hours over time. This is how we can increase the quality our core services PHP and Laravel development and thereby increase salaries further.

3. Coaching is often a fairly simple task

It’s often small details, simple habits, that are easy for senior staff to spot that make a big difference. If you’re actively involved in someone’s work, it takes little extra time to coach that colleague at the same time. A five minute discussion about an improvement opportunity is quickly dealt with.

4. Staff need to know how they perform

If two colleagues with the same salary, and within the same department, get two very different salary hikes, say 5% vs 10%, it must be very clear to the lower performer what we are expecting from him/her to reach 10%. There must be clear, honest, transparent, straightforward and formally documented feedback.

5. There should be a clear incentive to perform

Those who make the greatest efforts, take feedback seriously and perform the best deserve the highest hike. Staff should be provided with a clear incentive to perform.

This is essential to retain top talent. Top talent ensures the company’s success, which everyone benefits from. It’s critical that we build a meritocracy. Not only does a meritocracy make everyone more successful, juniors also know that seniors are appointed based on actual merit, increasing respect for seniors.

6. Seniors need to know how staff performs

Documented feedback will be essential for seniors to assign the right colleague to the right project and to appraise everyone’s salaries fairly.

7. Transparent feedback allows for big-picture quality assurance

Seniors including top management need to be aware of what feedback has already been given to staff. Only then can we complement feedback given, and be sure that all important concepts have been covered. Only then can we with confidence tell high-value prospects that the system here at LiteBreeze will guarantee that they receive top-quality services.

8. Knowledge-sharing

New staff will take time to get acquainted with the company. At LiteBreeze we have detailed and extensive Principles. New staff will not digest it all just by reading through it a few times. Seniors will need to help colleagues interpret the principles based on real-life situations. The art of coaching is the art of assisting discovery. Nothing replaces actual experience.

A colleague’s feedback document should be handed over to his or her successor, when that colleague resigns or is promoted into another role. Putting your time into coaching is a great investment.

9. Clarity in case of outplacement

In rare cases, a colleague may perform very poorly even after repeated attempts to help him or her through coaching. If worse comes to worst and we need to put such an employee through an outplacement process, the formalized feedback will show why we’ve had to take such drastic action.

This reduces the risk of conflict. Especially when paired with respectful feedback and a proper, non-hurried, outplacement procedure. Ideally we can part with such staff without either party holding a grudge.

Psychological barriers to feedback

Our process of brutally honest and transparent feedback might feel strange to you at times. I realize that it can be uncomfortable to get your work scrutinized, to hear how you should have done your job differently while also having your seniors seeing every detail. Defensive and emotional reactions – ego barriers – is a common response.

Feedback is not criticism that aims to push you down; it’s the exact opposite. Seniors put effort into coaching you because we believe in your long term potential, and we wish to lift you up. Next time someone tells you “I think you did this the wrong way, it would have been better to do it like this…” – look at it as a helping hand. It’s not about “finding faults with you”.

Don’t let ego barriers stand in the way of your progress. Learn to welcome and embrace feedback. A person who receives criticism and tries to objectively consider if it’s true is someone to be admired! Take feedback seriously but don’t get emotional about it.

Everyone in this organization including myself is criticized by someone; this is healthy. Rest assured that I practice what I preach, and that even our Project Director receives feedback.

I personally encourage and invite people to criticize me and the organization as well. Be brutally honest! As a senior I believe that the people who work for me should constantly challenge me, in order for me to become as good as I can be. Inviting criticism brings to the surface any subterranean discontent, and allows me to resolve that.

I’ve long been a proponent of straightforward and transparent feedback. In 2016 I stumbled upon Ray Dalio’s principles and I’ve paraphrased (and quoted some of) his thoughts on the importance of radical transparency and formal feedback.

The aim of our coaching process is to bring problems to the surface instead of trying to forget about them. If you don’t identify your problems, you won’t solve them, so you won’t move forward toward achieving your goals. As a result, it is essential to bring problems to the surface. People who can reflect on their own weaknesses will evolve the fastest and realize their full potential. Encourage seniors to give you feedback.

“In some companies, employees hide their employer’s mistakes, and employers do the same in return. In these places, openly expressing your concerns is considered disloyal, and is discouraged. Because it prevents people from bringing their mistakes and weaknesses to the surface and because it encourages deception and eliminates the subordinates’ right of appeal, unhealthy loyalty stands in the way of improvement. I believe in a truer, healthier form of loyalty, which does the opposite. Healthy loyalty fosters improvement through openly addressing mistakes and weaknesses. The more people are open about their challenges, the more helpful others can be. In an environment in which mistakes and weaknesses are dealt with frankly, those who face their challenges have the most admirable character. By contrast, when mistakes and weaknesses are hidden, unhealthy character is legitimized.” -Ray Dalio

I encourage face-to-face criticism and feedback but if you feel uncomfortable then send it through the anonymous service