Learn to give feedback in real time

19 December 2018

The problem with a classic appraisal is that it can often be backward looking. Let’s say you schedule it every six months. It can be demoralising and time-consuming to go over old ground and then file a report…that in reality might not get looked at again for another 6 months!

That’s why we’ve taken a new approach to feedback and coaching at our firm, which is one I think companies in any sector could potentially embrace.

The key is to make people accountable for both the work that they are doing and their development, through a culture of feedback and coaching. This is something that can happen on the job, throughout the course of a project or just as part of everyday operations. The key point is that you need to embed feedback into everything you do.

Our culture encourages everyone to deliver feedback to each other, regardless of job grade. Although this process is still a work in progress, we are constantly working to create a culture where all staff, firm wide, genuinely welcome and are open to feedback.

Our emphasis is now on personal development goals that are practical, focused and forward looking, facilitated by regular coaching sessions. This radical change did present a real challenge to those of us used to the regular appraisal system and it requires a whole switch in mindset. Some people rightly asked themselves whether they felt comfortable in the new role as a coach, and whether it was suited to them.

We’re more focused on what we can achieve in the short term – meeting up every eight weeks (or thereabouts) – although it’s up to individual to set the parameters and arrange the meetings. We aim to help people perform better in their roles, develop themselves and their skills. More often than not development areas are driven by feedback that has been received. For example if an individual has had some feedback that they need to work on being confident when speaking in public, that’s what we will focus on.

There’s not a lot of paperwork with this new process, but we do make sure that we track feedback against specific goals. Objectives are logged using software, so there’s a record of what everyone is working together to achieve.

It’s great for staff to have a time set aside when they can talk about their own developmental needs and issues they encounter in the job. That way, they can progress within their role, gain confidence and take on more complex work. The only proviso is that it takes time to set up a whole new system like this and developing a culture of feedback is not easy,  so don’t expect it to run smoothly from the word go. It may be worth investing in some training and open discussion before making the leap.

For more information please contact Laura Campbell (laura.campbell@aab.uk) or your usual AAB contact.

To find out more about Laura and the Human Resources team, click here. 

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