Building a Feedback Culture

Building a feedback culture - a performance review between staff and owner

By Per Mattsson, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor

Why do some people behave in a way that hinders their success or the success of their teams?

As a leader, struggling with team members is time consuming and frustrating. At times, it’s easy to think your efforts are pointless: You start to believe a certain team member is just acting stupidly or isn’t capable of change.

Before you give up on people, you should review the three most common reasons for underperformance:

  • The person does not know he or she is not meeting standards—lack of awareness.
  • The person knows he or she isn’t meeting standards but doesn’t know how to change or why changing is important—lack of understanding.
  • The person knows he or she isn’t meeting standards but doesn’t care—lack of engagement or investment.


Three possible answers—that’s it. Here’s how to address each issue.


Lack of Awareness

This person doesn’t even know she is underperforming. She doesn’t know her words are not coming across well or doesn’t know her behavior is not up to standards. She might not even know what is and isn’t acceptable. This often means no one is offering the person feedback or the feedback is too vague. Address the issue by delivering specific, regular feedback and ask if the person understands what is required to meet standards.


Lack of Understanding

This person is aware of his poor performance but does not know how to change or does not fully understand the effects of his behavior. Other people must speak up and share the impact this person’s behavior is having. Then a clear plan for improvement should be put in place so he knows exactly what adjustments need to be made.


Lack of Engagement or Investment

This person is pushing back against expectations. If the expectations are important and clearly delivered, this person needs managing. If the staff person still won’t engage, he or she might be in the wrong role or business. If the expectations need to be changed and modified, discuss these alterations with your team. It is very important to get staff members out of the “aware but don’t care” state so you can come to a mutual understanding.


How to Provide Feedback


As a leader, it is your job to make sure that feedback is given and well received in your organization. People in all three categories above need feedback in order to grow and change, and leaders must ensure there is both awareness and understanding. 

Giving great feedback requires four things:

1. A helpful and clear message about the impact of someone’s performance and behavior. It needs to be clear exactly what is not acceptable.

2. Clarity about which new behaviors are desired or which performance standards must be met.

3. Guidance about how to make positive changes. People must be provided with specific steps to take to achieve a new performance level or learn new behaviors.

4. Follow-up. You need to make sure to follow up. Follow-ups are positive and show your team member that you care and that the issue is important.

As a leader, you must believe that a person can change and grow. By addressing unacceptable behaviors or bad performance, you give staff opportunities to become more valuable to the business.

Practice your feedback skills by addressing poor behavior and performance with a partner who pretends to be a staff member. If you are prepared to have these conversations and know what to say, you can quickly address issues clearly and without emotion when they arise. This approach will give you the greatest chance to remedy any problems.


Other Media in This Series


“Creating a Feedback Culture: Trust and Values”
“Giving and Receiving Feedback”
“‘Stop Doing That!’: How to Give Feedback at Your Microgym”

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