Employee Performance Management: Constructive and Actionable Co-Worker Feedback in Two Simple Questions

August 24, 2015

shutterstock_63464797Today’s blog is by Carol Pollack, VP of Finance and Operations

In my last blog “Keep, Start, and Stop Doing That” I discussed how our 360 Degree Performance Management Process (PMP) uses team assessment meetings to both enhance the effectiveness of functional teams, and improve team member skills and behaviors as related to the team’s work.  We thought this worked well overall, but it did not solicit input outside of the functional teams. In other words, a program officer on the program team would not have the opportunity to provide feedback to the comptroller on the finance and operations team, and vice versa, despite working together to get grants paid out.

Proposed Solution for Internal Feedback

To remedy this shortfall, we supplemented the team meetings with peer feedback from staff outside of the immediate team in the form of a survey.  Our full staff worked to define the nature of the input that would be most helpful.  We realized that we all wanted to know the same thing—“What did I do well, and where can I improve?”  This produced the following two questions:

  • Provide an example of how “Person A” added value in your work together.  Please explain.
  • Please provide at least one specific improvement area(s) to share with “Person A.”

Each employee identified five people outside their team who they had worked with and wanted to receive feedback from, excluding their supervisor who regularly provides feedback.  The only rule was that they had to include any direct reports.

Prior to implementing this new PMP feature, we trained staff to ensure that everyone understood the two questions and could provide constructive feedback in a way that was actionable by the recipient.

Our human resources (“HR”) consultant, Carol Kardas of KardasLarson, ran the survey, aggregated responses, and presented each employee with a summary.  From these we each got input on how we were perceived, what strengths we possessed, and which areas we could develop to enhance our effectiveness and responsiveness with our colleagues. These reports were attached to the final PMP so they could be discussed with supervisors and key items extracted to create development goals for the upcoming years.

Staff expressed that they liked having the opportunity to give input in a way that was quick, easy, and relevant to the way they work with the person being reviewed. Recipients appreciated getting positive feedback and overall seemed to respect the suggestions for improvement.

As a learning organization, we really value the PMP, which is why we have invested so much time evaluating and refining it. We like to hear best practices from other organizations, especially on effective ways to get 360 feedback, and invite you to share.

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