What to do when your boss gives feedback on your employee? That’s a tough one, so let’s try to unwind this mess.
Here’s the scenario:
Your employee meets with your boss for a “skip level” meeting. After the meeting, the employee’s boss’s boss (your boss) tells you what a sharp employee you have.
Or, let’s say that your boss tells you that your employee needs to “change his attitude” and “has concerns about your employee.” This is very direct feedback about the employee, and it comes from an excellent authority (your boss), and if you disagree with it, you disagree with your boss.
But this information is entirely suspect. Whether the feedback from the “big boss” is positive or negative, the only thing it reveals is how the employee performed during the meeting with the boss. And unless your employee’s job duty is to meet with your boss, it actually has nothing to do with the expected performance on the job. So if the feedback is negative, do you spend time trying to correct your employee’s behavior during the time the employee meets with the big boss, when it isn’t related to the employee’s job duties?
In addition, the big boss often prides him or herself on the ability to cut through things and come to conclusions quickly, succinctly, and immediately. The big boss will come to a conclusion about the employee based on the data provided in the one-on-one meeting, and will expect this conclusion to be corroborated by you and everyone else.
The big boss, in this process, will put a tag on the employee, whatever it is. Here are some examples of tags:
Not a go-getter
Not aware of the issues
Could be a problem
. . .or, the dreaded, ambiguous, “I’m not sure about him.”
What’s worse, since the “tag” originated with the big boss, it will likely stick.
Providing performance feedback is a neglected art in people management. In a prior article, I discussed how the more specific and more immediate the feedback, the more artful it is. Today, I discuss something that should be obvious but isn’t always observed when managers provide feedback: At least try to provide the correct course of action. This is the constructive part of constructive feedback.
Many managers seem comfortable saying that they don’t like the output, actions or performance of an employee. They may even believe that this qualifies as providing feedback. Here are some examples of some less than artistic “feedback” managers may give:
“You didn’t do it right. Fix it.”
“I don’t like it.”
“I don’t agree with this.”
“This isn’t what I had in mind.”
“This is all wrong.”
My two previous blog posts have been about “public feedback.” Public feedback is the commonly observed phenomenon where a manager tries to correct the behavior of a few individuals through mass-communication channels such as email or a large-group meeting. Common examples are, “We have a dress code” or “We need to stop the gossiping.” In my first blog post on the subject, I describe how this doesn’t change – or even makes worse – the behavior of the people who are behaving incorrectly. In my second post on the subject, I describe the impact on those who are actually behaving correctly (it throws them out of whack).
OK, so it doesn’t work with the people who you are targeting, and it messing up with the people you aren’t targeting. But what about you, the manager? It messes you up too!
When giving public feedback, the manager is trying to take a shortcut and address several performance issues at once. We’ve already established that it doesn’t work, so that should be enough. Here’s how this short cut plays out. Read more
In my previous post, I described what I call the “ineffective-you-doing-OK-swing-by.” It is ineffective in that it indicates that the manager is hoping to take a short cut in solving a problem, and it doesn’t solve the problem. Additionally, it trains your employees to set up dramas to get your attention. It’s a leading indicator that you are managing from a deficit.
In today’s post, I’ll discuss five ways to reduce and avoid having to rely on such swing-bys.
In my previous post, I introduced the concept of “managing from a deficit.” In today’s post, I discuss a common scenario of when a manager “manages from a deficit”, and tries a short cut to get out of it. This I call the “ineffective-you-doing-OK-swing-by.”
If you are a manager, you want to be able to take the temperature of how the members of your team are doing. Knowing who is doing well and who needs support is an important skill. The basic premise that many managers operate under is that they don’t pay attention to the ones who are doing well, and the ones who are struggling need some “moral support.”
To address those times when someone is need of support or it is suspected that something is wrong, it is frequently observed that managers perform what I call the “ineffective-you-doing-OK-swing-by.”