Even Daily Feedback May Be Too Seldom

Chapter 5 Pg 124-126 Lead With Love By:  Gerry Czarnecki

Compounding the problem of giving effective evaluations is that all too often they are relegated to a once-a-year activity. Nothing could be worse. The practice of waiting a full year to give direct, formal evaluation and performance feedback is unfair to the associate and illogical for the organization’s interests. Evaluation must be an activity tied to the individual’s daily performance, not to the convenience of a process. We cannot expect associates to know what we do not tell them. Either positive or negative messages about behavior or performance must be communicated at the time of the event, not a month or a year later. How can we expect change if we make no attempt to inform associates about their performance? Annual reviews do not work to the associate’s or the organization’s benefit. Over forty years ago, Douglas McGregor, in his classic book !e Human Side of Enterprise, wrote about the annual performance appraisal. His message is still on the mark:

 The semiannual or annual appraisal is not a particularly efficient stimulus to learning for another reason:  It provides “feedback” about behavior at a time remote from the behavior itself. People do learn and change as a result of feedback. In fact, it is the only way they learn. However, the most effective feedback occurs immediately after the behavior. The subordinate can learn a great deal from a mistake, or a particular failure in a performance, provided it is analyzed while all the evidence is immediately at hand. Three or four months later, the likelihood of effective learning from that experience is small. It will be still smaller if the superior’s generalized criticism relates to several incidents spread over a period of months.

 A behavioral psychologist, such as B.F. Skinner, would say if you fail to reinforce desired behavior, it will eventually disappear. And if you fail to punish undesirable behavior, you will encourage it to continue. Classical Freudian psychology would hold that behavior will persist until an individual understands the core reasons for its existence. In any case, allowing an   associate to continue working without an honest evaluation of behaviors and performances is a classic sign that the leader has failed the love test. If we really loved our associates, we would not allow them to drift with no idea as to how they stand. Unfortunately, too many of us fail our associates and give them, at best, severely delayed feedback.

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