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August 2019
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TD Magazine

It’s Not Just What You Say but How You Say It

Are you a people manager? If so, when providing feedback, do you treat all your direct reports the same? If you answered yes, it's time to change.

Individuals, as well as teams, have specific roles and functions within an organization and should, therefore, be treated differently, urges Ben Locwin in "A Modern Approach to Performance Feedback." People managers should understand what a team contributes to make the business operate successfully and, thus, the barometer that companies should use to measure performance.

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Understanding that value-add is about what an employee needs to be doing well. Being able to assess that is only one aspect of measuring performance. Performance also is about how an individual should act in contributing to the organization—that is, in accordance with company culture and values.

Finally, managers need to appreciate how their direct reports best receive performance feedback. For this, managers need to know employees' personal values, purpose, and preferences. Tips for getting to that level of understanding include:

  • asking direct reports for feedback (How do they like being acknowledged for a job well done?)
  • getting to know their interests outside work (such as tending to an aging parent, volunteering that conflicts with late hours on a certain day)
  • an individual's manner of thinking (Should performance discussions emphasize analytical data, or do social aspects resonate to a greater degree?).

These tips were adapted from the August 2019 issue of TD at Work.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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