Is It a Year-End Review or a Rear-End Review?

There’s less than 40 days before year’s end and everyone’s scrambling to complete the year-end performance review on some HR platform as a means of compliance. The bigger the org the better more impersonal, ‘here just rate yourself…so I can process your [7-12%] bonus… you won’t see until Q1 anyway…’ sadly that’s not too exaggerated. For some, there’s been little communication since you recently joined in September…so you get a pass until Dec. 1st. For others, who have toiled in the basement of projects and cross-functional teams to get by and survive another year and cash that $3,000 bonus check to pay for Christmas, new tires on the van,  a brake job for your car, get caught up on your kids’ braces payment and pay Sylvan for your oldest’s SAT prep to hopefully get some scholarship bucks to offset that bill. The struggle is real! But then there’s your boss – the double SOB spelled backwards!

Communication is at the core of any relationship – personal and professional – and receiving feedback can be even more confusing and uncomfortable when things are lost in translation. We’re going to assume you’re getting regular, consistent feedback in this post. I know, it’s likely I live in Fantasyland…hear me out as it may be valuable when the rear-end review occurs:

What are your experiences with feedback in the past?

What’s your best experience with feedback? Who delivered it?

What’s your worst experience with feedback? Who delivered it?

What are your triggers? (That word that makes you automatically defensive.)

In which medium do you take feedback best: Are you visual? Would you rather read it in an email, a note on screen, or a document, etc. in order to digest it? Would you rather read it in person? Are you one to actively engage during a conversation, or do you prefer to just sit and listen?

One of the more important pieces of receiving or internalizing feedback, regardless if it’s a rear-end review or a year-end review, is a clear understanding of your needs is as important – knowing how you best receive feedback means you can focus on the message, and not the messenger.

Do you want to work in an environment that values continuous growth and improvement?

What’s the point of watching the game tape, if you aren’t going to come up with new plays? If you find yourself at the end of an email or meeting without a clear articulation of methods for improvement—then empower yourself to ask. Try this: Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve?

Is it helpful if you have a follow-up in a week, two weeks, a month?

Is there someone in our office that excels in this area I can talk to?

Are there any resources you’d recommend?

Do we offer professional development support for this skill?

It’s about reps – everything in improving a life is about building muscle. The more you do something, the more you are exposed to it, the more you confront it—the less fearful you will be about it. If you’re not quite sure how to start the conversation, here’s some questions to get you going:  Instead of asking, “What did you think?” – it’s a well-intentioned question, it often leads to nebulous answers with no tangible action points for improvement – consider asking:

Is there any area where I could have been more clear?

Where did the group respond most favorably to my idea, article, email, etc.?

Where did the group have the most resistance to my idea?

If you were me, what’s one thing you may have done differently?

Treat Feedback as a Gift

All of us want to know we’re performing to our potential. An Elegant Leader will let you know where you stand before you’re even hired and until the very end when either/both of you decide to move on. Positive feedback is generally more well received than negative feedback. I can recall the days when I received a “poop sandwich.” You know what that is, right? Someone you work with or for tells you, you, “…did a great job, but…” You immediately forget everything that was said prior to the but and frankly you think the person who imparted their feedback on you is a butt. Fill out your own here by asking yourself these questions:

However, we all need clear and concise feedback on what went ______________________,

what didn’t and what __________________________ we have learned. It’s important to

be prepared in case you need to hear things you weren’t expecting to hear. Here’s what’s important to remember:


1. Treat feedback as a ________________________. Be grateful. People are giving you advice and counsel about how to be more successful.

2. Your role is not your ________________________. Often, we confuse our role in an organization with who we are as a person. You are not your job so there’s no need to get defensive. Feedback is about role performance.

3. It’s not about ____________________ or _______________________. It’s about receiving data and not an argument or an emotional event. Relax.

4. Direct the advice so it __________________________ you. Ask for specific examples to understand what their basis is and what they’re trying to tell you. It’s not to debate or argue. You’re listening for specific behaviors, attitudes and metrics to help you become more successful. Ask, what would you like to see instead of what they are seeing.

5. Where appropriate, make __________________. Apologize and commit to being better.

If you decide you’d like to know more about Elegant Leadership and what Voltage has to do wtih any of it, simply check it out here. And, if you’d like to have a conversation about what your lead looks like and how it can evolve with you, I offer a no obligation, no salesy discussion here. You’ll hear what thousands of others have grabbed ahold of and maybe join the movement #ElegantLeader2020

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