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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Feedback as mentoring

For managers, as much as for employees, the feedback session can be an event to dread. While the employee may feel like the lead in a horror movie, the manager sometimes faces the distressing prospect of having to deliver home truths at the risk of offending or, worse, demoralizing the employee. Even under the best of circumstances, the feedback session is rife with tension. It doesn’t have to be this way.

With the right approach, feedback sessions will be positive and rewarding for all concerned. One key is to frame the event correctly. Feedback should never just be about skills and capabilities, but should also include a discussion about career interests. Employees need a clear sense of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their interests and what the organization expects of them so that they are equipped to help the organization achieve its goals.

A second key is to approach feedback as an open, collaborative effort. Give praise where praise is due. Ask questions and listen to explanations. Work together to set a course for improved performance.

A third key is frequency. A single annual performance review simply sets everyone on edge. Providing feedback routinely, however, demonstrates your continuing interest in and support for someone’s development. Feedback and mentoring become indistinguishable.

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