Getting Stuck Giving Performance Feedback

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In career management, I only hear the employee’s side of issues but an estimated 60% of clients seen to date have received no performance reviews or very little detailed feedback on their work. It’s a common  reason for wanting to transition. 

In a 2017 HBR Blog Post, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman confirm through their survey that 44% of managers find giving negative feedback very stressful but the interesting result was that  37% of the people who took their  self-assessment conceded that they don’t even give positive reinforcement!

“One of the most difficult parts of a manager’s job is giving feedback. In a survey of 7,631 people, we asked whether they believed that giving negative feedback was stressful or difficult, and 44% agreed.”

Giving feedback is incredibly difficult for most of us. When talking with managers about giving feedback, the authors report that they “often hear comments such as, “I did not sleep the night before,” “I just wanted to get it over quickly,” “My hands were sweating and I was nervous,” and “They don’t pay me enough to do this job.”

Giving feedback raises thoughts in us such as:: “This is going to backfire”, “I have never been any good at giving feedback”, “The person is going to hate me,” “if I don’t do this right I could have group dynamics problems,” or “who am I to give this positive feedback,” “they are going to think I am manipulating them or I am being artificial. “

The result is that managers get stuck and the feedback, that they know is valuable just does not happen.

“We find that because of this anxiety, some managers resist giving their direct reports any kind of critical feedback at all: when we asked a different group of 7,808 people to conduct a self-assessment, 21% admitted that they avoid giving negative feedback.”

In our practice, we find that people get stuck by similar kinds of thoughts at many different stages of their career discernment and job search process. Often they do not notice they are stuck and they let other things in life take priority over the task they are avoiding, which they know is more important to their long term fulfillment.

We have been working on the development of a process based on positive psychology and acceptance and commitment therapy  that we teach people to help them get unstuck and while it  takes practice and a sense of determination, it seems to work well for most people and they often talk about how it helps them get unstuck in other parts of their life.  Learn more





Wayne Greenway is Senior Partner with Career Aviators, a Certified B Corporation® that directs all profit to innovative youth leadership initiatives in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He is proud of a 93% success rate in helping helps clients from across Canada to find jobs in which they will excel, value highly and love to do. Helping clients to get unstuck and move forward in career and business decisions is a regular part of his work. He is becoming known as a thought leader in this area.