One question I get frequently from newly promoted managers and leaders is how to give constructive feedback in their reviews. We’ve all had the kind of reviews that create a knot in the stomach, or sweaty palms—whether you are the recipient or the one delivering.

I try to strike a balance between truly acknowledging the person for their contributions, and making helpful suggestions that could augment their growth and success. Here are a few examples:

(Acknowledge Contributions)

  • You were so helpful in keeping the team calm as we went through the merger. Your relationship-building strengths were very evident and the impact on me was that I knew you could hold that steady even when I was out of town.
  • I’m hearing from our new hires that your ability to help them in the onboarding process was a big piece of their success and quick wins after joining us.

(Augment Growth/Success)

  • I can see that you grasp complex issues quickly. I see your strategic strength at play in that. One thing you might do to help the other team members comprehend and feel included is to circle back and connect the dots for those who are not as strategic in their thinking. I believe you’ll get better performance when your communication is concise and clear and you know everyone gets it before moving into action.
  • I so appreciate that you adapt easily to our changing market conditions. One improvement you might make is to not wait for an external change to implement a new idea. If you were a bit more anticipating it rather than reacting to it, that might accelerate our success.

Other questions I like to ask the employee are:

  • “Where do you see your best area for growth?
  • “If you could get the greatest leverage by improving one thing, what do think that would be?”
  • “What is one roadblock or speed bump you could eliminate this year and how can I be of help?”
  • “What is the strength you’d most like to invest in this quarter?”

When we partner with each other in thinking about how best to use our strengths, taking bite-size improvements, and acknowledging successes, reviews become energizing rather than draining for the reviewer and the reviewed.

Teri Johnson is the founder of Personal Best Partners and a workplace consultant. To learn more about how to improve your leadership or the performance of your team, reach out via private message.

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