Pitfalls in Performance Feedback [Sinofsky]

Steven Sinofsky is crushing it this year penning several thoughtful posts on the performance management process that’s at the heart of so many organizations.

His latest is

Pitfalls in Performance Feedback

Where he covers, well, the common pitfalls in giving performance feedback.

The first part of the post calls out behaviors that in his opinion tend to be (wrongfully) rewarded in performance feedback:

  • Visibility of the person
  • Self-promotion
  • Handling real-time exchanges or “thinking on your feet” well
  • Heroics. Over-promising
  • Goal-setting gymnastics. Over-delivering
  • Arguing (as opposed to debating)
  • Writing skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Confrontation (as opposed to providing feedback)

The second part makes a broader observation, that a common pitfall in performance feedback has to do with its focus. Sinofsky discerns between three aspects of a work an employee does:

  1. Deliverables
  2. Process — which is poorly worded, in my opinion, and actually refers to teamwork, collaboration and overall good corporate citizenship
  3.  Style and Technique

He then argues that the rough focus of performance feedback should be ~80% deliverables, 15% process and 5% style and technique.

This deeper insight contextualizes the list in the first part and refines the argument there a bit, since it’s clear that most of the pitfalls listed in the first part have to do with “style and technique” and a handful has to do with “process”. So even if the feedback there is valid (some roles do require strong writing skills) — it should not be the primary focus of the feedback.

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Pitfalls in Performance Feedback [Sinofsky]

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