Critical Feedback or Criticism?

June 2, 2017

Organisations and Leaders throughout Australia are adopting the ideology of critical or 360 degree feedback methodology to build trust, accountability and shared power within teams in the name of performance improvement and sustainability.

It is important to recognise that the process of critical feedback is as valuable as the content; when mistakes are made, the proposition of effective organisational culture can spin into an ugly tangle of mistrust, conflict and under-performance.  The critical feedback mechanism can become a forum of criticism and bullying, the direct opposite of the intention.

The key determinant to whether we maintain effective critical feedback or step onto the slippery slope of criticism is whether we focus on the individual’s personality or their observable performance.  The process of critical feedback should commence by establishing clear intent;

“we are here to provide feedback on your performance”

followed by

“to discuss how we can support you to improve your performance”

and finally

“and create a plan of action that will guide you towards your goals”.

The content within the process should clearly, concisely outline the expected standard of performance, compared against the observed standard of performance:

“This is our expectation of your performance….”

followed by

“this is the performance we have observed….”

and then

“How do you view this situation?”

Asking the final question can allow the individual under the spot light to give insight into their performance that has potentially not been known and may perhaps provide key pieces of information to create a more achievable, relevant action plan.

Essentially, the platform of critical feedback must be based on trust, continuous improvement and mutual benefit.    Without these elements in place, Managers should be encouraged to seek advice and support prior to commencing critical feedback programs.   As always, the Leadership At Work team is here to provide the guidance, support and expertise that will significantly reduce the risk of turning a positive (yet possibly uncomfortable) experience into a giant, nasty monster.