You know the moves, but can you swim?

Performance evaluation without the culture of feedback is like learning to swim on your bed. You may master the moves but it won’t help you swim. – Khalid Raza

Nobody is perfect, you, your manager, your employees, your spouse, kids, or your organization. Being able to receive and utilize feedback can be the difference between greater level of success and deeper personal satisfaction and/or mediocre performance and unhappy personal state.

Annual performance management is a key component of employee development. An employee evaluation is the assessment and review of a worker’s job performance. Most companies have performance evaluation system wherein employees are evaluated on a regular basis (mostly once a year). Organizations have detailed policies and guidelines to ensure performance review is a fair and balanced assessment of an employee’s performance. And, most of them succeed in doing so.

However, a critical and integral piece is always left to the heavens, by leaders and organizations – and that is, ‘fostering a culture of feedback.’ Continuous, timely and relevant feedback is not something that happens in December (Annual performance evaluations cycle closure) but is a part of daily performance development. Do we wait to tell our kids not to play with anything that can hurt them or could be detrimental to their health? Then, why do we wait till the end of the performance evaluation cycle, to share feedback?

Wind Surfboard 2014 Khalid Raza SocialGlamor

Maureen Monte, my friend and mentor, highlights this in her lovely blog, how others’ perspective on our behavior can help us see what we don’t know about ourselves. Others’ perspective on our behavior is the benchmark one should follow to see if we are effective. We may do a world of amazing things but if that is not effective, we are missing the bus and people around us, can provide the best account of it, and help us become better. Sometimes, all you just need is encouragement and a nudge to get up and get going.

Recommended: Why do we fall (video)?

In their book, ‘Thanks for the Feedback’ – Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen share three kinds of feedback – Appreciation, Coaching, and Evaluation.

  • Appreciation motivates us – it puts the spring in our step and gives us the energy to amplify our efforts. When people complain that they don’t get enough feedback at work, they often mean that they wonder whether anyone notices or cares how hard they’re working. They don’t want advice. They want appreciation.
  • Coaching is aimed at helping us learn, grow, or change. The focus is on helping the person improve, whether it involves a skill, an idea, knowledge, a particular practice, or that person’s appearance or personality.
  • Evaluation tells us where we stand. It’s an assessment, ranking, or rating. The one we do all the time at work and have become so successful at.

Each form of feedback – appreciation, coaching, and evaluation – satisfies a different set of human needs.

We need evaluation to know where we stand, to set expectations, to feel reassured or secure. We need coaching to accelerate learning, to focus our time and energy where it really matters, and to keep our relationships healthy and functioning. We need appreciation to feel motivated, to regroup and continue to do our best.

In IBM, we are building a new way of working that is agile, engaging, and increasingly more effective for all IBMers.  As HR leaders, we can have tremendous impact on the workforce by building and nurturing a culture of feedback, wherein all IBMers are heard, enabled, and empowered. It is important to note that we must be agile in our approach to receiving and giving feedback.

How can you contribute?

You hold the key to make your work place happy and create leaders around you and in the process transform your journey. List down three people you think will benefit from your feedback and three people whose feedback you should seek. Go out, set up up time with them and engage in a fruitful discussion. Repeat this exercise every month and slowly make this a continual practice.

Recommended: You can make your workplace happy.

Share this blog with your network through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and most importantly, be a role model for all in promoting the cultural transformation

So, next time someone wants to learn to swim, don’t buy them the manual, take them to the pool!

Edited by: Vanitha Poojary


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4 thoughts on “You know the moves, but can you swim?

  1. lutzmarten August 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm Reply

    Khalid, thank you for the nice and comprehensive posting on performance management! Will you publish the result of the poll as well? -Lutz


    • Khalid Raza August 8, 2014 at 9:36 am Reply

      Hey Lutz, nice to see you here. Thank you for taking out time to read and comment. Performance management and feedback are so close to my heart. The results are dynamic and will keep changing as more and more people respond to the survey. Once you post your response, it should show the result to you. Hope his helps.


  2. somanovato August 8, 2014 at 11:32 am Reply

    Khalid, I am glad our IBM leader brought forward the subject of feedback by discussing this with 3 millennials. I agree with your views on feedback loops, as they need to be built organically by every one of us to help us mature and grow and stay relevant. And to your point, organizations ought to seriously consider including feedback and sentiment analysis as primary tools in improving their precious resources (aka employees) morale and performance.


  3. maureenmonte August 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm Reply

    Great job, Khalid, and many thanks for sharing my blog post. One point I would like to make his this: Feedback is an individual experience – meaning that group feedback from one person is not what we are discussing here. We are discussing a one on one dialogue with a desired outcome. The outcome can only be achieved if both are committed to the outcome and the journey to get there. Individual is the key word – meaning that engagement occurs on an individual basis; therefore, fixing disengagement must happen on an individual basis. It is no different than the client experience – meaning that if a client has a bad experience with a company, it must be fixed for that client. Making it better for the next client is good (prevention) but for complete success, one must go back and fix the experience with the client who has suffered. This last part, for both employee and client, is where most companies fall down. It’s not easy, but it is ESSENTIAL. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us.


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