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Key problems part 2


Feedback can be informal, as in the case of ad hoc praise, or it can be more formal in the form of an appraisal.

The problem with most appraisal systems is that there is a scale of performance level, for example, 1 is good and 5 is bad.
It doesn’t matter whether this is dressed up as A to D with A+ etc the end result is the same.
People don’t like to be given a low score even if it is deserved.

In the main, managers hate giving appraisals because they dislike giving negative feedback.
Negative feedback is seen as lowering motivation.
Being positive is much easier to do.

You might wish to try something a little different that focuses on a need to continually develop rather than drawing attention to negative failings.

Alternative system

Each level of management has its own challenges in trying to create leaders instead of managers of processes.
The development process at each level can be described in the same or similar way.

  • New leader
  • Developing leader
  • Maturing leader
  • Complete leader

These levels can be called anything that represents the gradual acquisition of knowledge to become a competent leader at the given level.
Each of these stages will require definition at a particular management level.

For example, you may have a list of attributes for a complete leader some of which may not be required at a particular level.
Delegation skills would be a necessity at all levels unless you have no staff.
The ability to create a vision is a requirement for the most senior positions but less so if you are in the ‘middle game’ of management.
Personal goals and target setting will be required early on in leadership.

The aim is to list as many of the skills as possible and judge people on their mastery of these for their level in the organisation.

Keep calm

Never let yourself get angry or personal during feedback.
Arguments do nothing for motivation.
When you feel under pressure stick to a model to keep you focused.

  • Timing:

If the timing isn’t right don’t give the feedback as you may make the situation worse.

  • Evidence:

Don’t make an argument out of hearsay. Stick to the facts and provide evidence if you can.

  • Appreciation:

When confronted by a negative aspect try to get them to appreciate how it makes you feel and ask if this is the effect they were trying to achieve.
This may lead to a more fruitful discussion of the problem than just blindly stating that the individual has failed in some way.

  • Master:

If you want someone to change their behaviour it is important that they are the master of their own solution.
Tempting as it is to trot out the solution, trying to get the person to comply is very difficult.
If they analyse their error they should be in a position to take corrective action themselves.
They are far more likely to comply, if they are masters of their own destiny, with their own ideas rather than yours.

  • Action:

Agree any next steps with appropriate timings. Even arrange another meeting in the future to check on progress.

You could think of this as the acronym TEAM ‘A’. You could make up your own for the occasion.


This is a classic management problem where people come to you with their troubles – they have a monkey on their back.
For peace of mind and to save time you either tell them the solution, or worse, you decide to solve it yourself so that they can get on with something else.

In both cases you lose and so does the person who entered with the problem.

By taking on the problem you create work for yourself not only now but in the long run as the same thing will happen when the problem arises again.
As far as the individual is concerned they may go away relieved at having got rid of the monkey on their back but they have learnt nothing.
An opportunity for development has gone missing.

Whenever possible get people to solve their own problems as it will develop their own skills and benefit you and the team in the long term.