by Michael Holland    

Manager Matt sits at the small table outside a coffee shop enjoying the fresh air and the aroma of coffee.  He’s waiting for Erin, one of his employees, to arrive.  It’s time to deliver her yearly performance review.  Matt relishes the opportunity to have this climatic yearly conversation because he’s prepared, he’s already delivered the key messages to Erin throughout the year, and he knows how to have this conversation. Ten years earlier, Super Boss Barbara had taught Manager Matt how to deliver feedback. In fact, Barbara didn’t just teach Matt, she showed and modeled it for him.

Manager Matt thinks back to the methodology Super Boss Barbara used and how he’s used the same structure throughout his years.  It seems so simple.

  • You Watch Me Do – Super Boss Barbara had Manager Matt shadow her as she delivered feedback to an employee.  Afterwards, the two managers debriefed on the session, discussing what worked what could have been better.  They talked through the process, and she explained to Matt why she said what she said, and how she anticipated the tone of the conversation.
  • We Do Together – Barbara and Matt prepared together for a feedback discussion with an employee.  Then they delivered the feedback to the employee together.  Afterwards, the two managers debriefed on the session, again discussing what worked and what could have been better.
  • I Watch You As You Do – Matt prepared for an employee feedback session and Barbara shadowed Matt as he delivered the session.  Afterwards, the two managers debriefed on the session.
  • You Teach Someone Else To Do – Matt came alongside a brand new manager and mentored the manager, using the same process to guide him.  (Teaching someone else what you’ve learned cements the learning into your behaviors.)  Afterwards, Matt went to Barbara and the two managers once again discussed what worked in the session and what could have been better.

Have you had a Super Boss Barbara in your life?  Are you one in someone else’s?  It’s never too late to start doing the right things to be a good manager and help others to become good managers.

Coaching Thoughts- For You and Your Peers:

  • After each step in Super Boss Barbara’s method in delivering feedback, she and Manager Matt debrief. Is this necessary, or is it a place to cut corners? What might happen if you didn’t take the time after each session to figure out what worked and what could have been better?
  • This model for providing feedback relies heavily on learning by example. If Barbara would have simply told Matt how to do it instead of showing him, would she have saved time in the short term? Would the training have been as effective in the long run? Take a moment to think about this, and imagine the possible consequences of a lesser investment in Matt’s training.
  • The structure Barbara uses for performance review is important, but there are several other key pieces. Re-read the first paragraph. What are the first two pieces to delivering good feedback?
    • What are some ways in which you can prepare for delivering a performance review?
    • Have you made it a point to provide key messages to each of your employees throughout the year?