7Talk about Performance—Feedback

The second critical manager behavior that leads to results and retention is communicating about performance.

To be fair, you probably tried to talk to your directs about how they were doing, but it was difficult, wasn't it? Particularly when you had to point out a mistake. You tried to talk to them about what had happened, but maybe they got upset, or you just didn't have the right words, and so the meeting was awkward. It chilled your relationship for a couple of weeks and was a performance dampener.

Don't despair. You were doing it wrong. So was I. And so were most other managers, for most of our careers. Feedback isn't inherently difficult to give, or to receive. (It's a great deal easier to give and receive feedback when trust has been built.) When you do it wrong, however, it feels really wrong to the direct. But doing it right just isn't all that difficult.

It probably doesn't feel great to read, “You were doing it wrong,” but please let yourself off the hook. I did it wrong, too, for years, and sometimes I still do. Most of my clients, colleagues, and friends who are effective managers all did it wrong for years, until they learned better. Yes, communicating about your directs' performance is part of your job, and yes, it's unlikely you've been doing it at a very high level, but you can be forgiven for not having done it much or done it well. Why? Because you've never been taught how.

In fact, I'd bet part of the reason you're reading ...

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