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Why “You’re Doing a Great Job. Keep it Up!” May Be the Worst Feedback You Can Get

In my recent work with business leaders, three of them shared feedback with me that they had received from their boss as part of their annual performance appraisal process. Instead of a 30-60 minute assessment of their prior year’s performance, each of them instead heard something like “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” or “I loved your self-assessment. I totally agree.” And these weren’t 30-60 minute conversations. It was 5 minutes.

At first blush, it sounds great! Each of my clients were thrilled to receive positive and supportive feedback from their boss. Yet, in the long-term, this may be the worst feedback you can get during a performance assessment.

Continued Growth

Why? Because folks need to hear what they’re doing well and what they need to do differently in order to continue to grow. If all you hear is “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” you are not hearing everything that you need to hear in order to grow. You’re not hearing the imperfections that you need to hear in order to make progress.

If you work at an organization that implements an annual performance assessment, your assessment must be comprised of three segments:

  1. How you did on your prior year’s performance expectations, goals, and objectives. This includes good and bad observations – what went right or wrong? No one is perfect and imperfections provide room for growth.
  2. What you could do differently in the months to come to have an increasingly positive impact.
  3. How your boss can help.

That’s it. Any assessment that is more future-focused than past-focused is more likely to help you get the feedback you need in order to grow and evolve.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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Ed Evarts is the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development, an organization focused on coaching mid- to senior- level leaders and their teams in business environments. With over twenty-five years of innovative leadership and management experience, Ed possesses the ability to build awareness, create action, and deliver results. Known for his business acumen, his ability to resolve complex human relations issues, and his enthusiastic, accessible and responsive style, Ed partners with managers, leaders and business teams to explore clarity and communication, and traverse conflict and change.

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