Talk or Listen !

It is performance review time in some organisations.  Some employees have asked me the difference between a pre-appraisal dialogue between the employee and the manager and a post appraisal feedback session.

If I have to put it simply, in the pre-dialogue, the employee should talk and the manager listen.  In the feedback session, the manager should talk and the employee listen.  One of our biggest challenges as human beings is our ability to listen.  We have always been poor listeners and have enough feedback from family, friends and colleagues that we could improve on our listening skills.  But, as manager or employee, we continue to be poor listeners.

Let me try to simplify the role of the manger and the employee in a pre-dialogue session first :

– The employee talks and the manager listens ( most of the time and not the other way around)

– The employee should highlight his performance with facts and figures against the goals set for him for the previous year and his contributions/ impact.

– The Manager could ask for clarifications, if any

– The employee shares development needs and career aspirations

– The employee explains his strengths and improvement areas with behavioural examples

– The employee also seeks job rotation or other developmental opportunities.

Now, let’s understand what is the role of the manager and employee in the post appraisal feedback session :

– The manager talks and the employee listens ( most of the time and not the other way around)

– The manager explains her assessment both in terms of ‘what'(tasks) and ‘how'( behaviour) with examples observed

– The employee could ask for clarifications

– The manager should explain the strengths and improvement areas of the employee with examples

– The manager should explain the performance rating and the basis for the same with examples

– The manager should enable the employee to look forward to the next year and agree on targets and development plans

In real life situations, the roles generally tend to reverse.  Many managers tend to give feedback during the pre-dialogue process itself.  Further, they talk more than they listen.  They do not encourage employees to give their point of view.  They  find it difficult to create an environment, where the employee opens up and shares accomplishments, development needs and career aspirations.

Similarly, in the feedback process, it become more a monologue.  While, at this stage the manger is expected to talk and the employee listen, it becomes a one way communication.  Managers do talk but again do not encourage employees to listen and own the feedback.  At the end of the feedback session, the employee should feel motivated to look forward to the next year both in terms of challenges on the job and their own development and growth.

We have to make this dialogue ( not monologue) more inspirational than perspirational.  Many employees are nervous to get into a pre dialogue or a feedback session.  It is almost like the board exams at the secondary school level. How can we make it like a game to play together ?   Employees should look forward to it and play the game.  If they are inspired, they will build their skills and give their best. Managers should be like the coach encouraging her team members to play to win.

Let employees aspire and mangers inspire.

What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar


2 thoughts on “Talk or Listen !

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