End of the Year Feedback - Motivation, Change or Pain

I was excited to see an end-of-year email from one of my clients years ago. You know the kind you get from your boss or company or vendor saying nice things. Because I  speak on giving effective feedback and give workshops on giving feedback and painless performance appraisals. This feedback showed me what I needed to do to improve how my others saw my work and showed me what bosses needed to remember about giving criticism. The client that sent the email considered me a part-time employee and for many years had been one of their highest rated speakers/employees designing and conducting hundreds of programs for their wonderful audiences.

I had had the same manager for years, but that had changed and now I had a new contact for each program that I never saw face to face, nor had conference calls or phone calls with. They did everything via email. I would get an email after a program with the critiques from my audiences. They were always excellent. I thought my contacts would know about my outstanding ratings. So, I was expecting a, "Thank you for all your years of rave reviews."

That is not what I got.  Unfortunately, the email was a form letter sent out to all their speakers nationwide saying that they had reviewed the feedback of all their speakers from all the audiences for the year and found two top complaints then, they listed them. Here is the thing, It wasn’t my audiences’ feedback of me. The two complaints weren’t things MY audiences had said about me. This was negative feedback that had nothing to do with me or anything I could control or help my fellow speakers change. There was no general positive feedback, no supportive or motivational comments nothing related to my actual feedback just the negative feedback. I am sure it checked off a box on a list of corporate end-of-year to-dos, but it was, at best, de-motivational. At first, I thought it was a slap in the face for all my years of good work, but then I realized it was a wake-up call about what I had done wrong with my interactions with my client/managers and a reminder about what I needed to make sure I taught in my programs about giving feedback. 

First I examined what I had done wrong.  I had not done my due diligence and called each new manager contact after each program when I got my emailed feedback and said thank you and gone over my feedback. This was something I used to do when I had the same manager for all those years. I wasn't doing it and that was my fault and my responsibility. I expected my work to speak for itself and it obviously hadn’t. My rave reviews were invisible to the head executive who sent out the email and I had not made them visible nor had I championed the value I brought to the organization.

I had occasionally forwarded a personal email or note of praise I got from an audience member after the program, to my direct manager for that program but, I kept that to a minimum because I knew each coordinator got the class evaluation sheet and I was concerned about bragging too much. That’s ironic as I have a program for woman leaders on how and why to brag!!! I had done absolutely nothing on my own to let leadership above my direct contact that I was an asset. Nada, nothing. We don’t have conference calls or meetings, so I had not reached out. Suffice to say, I have a new to-do list for that client for the new year. The email also made me think about you. The managers, team leaders, heads of volunteer groups, and parents out there that come to the end-of-year and want to send out an email. Here is a list of to-dos for end-of-year feedback

1) No surprises, most importantly no bad feedback that you have been saving up and now you feel pressured to give it out at the end of the year. Negative feedback should ideally be given immediately after the negative behavior has occurred and should ideally be given face-to-face or over the phone. You can follow my E.R.A.S.E.R. Method and book me for coaching and or a workshop on how to do this effectively. If you still feel the need to give it via email, darn it, call me first and let’s talk through the situation. No charge. Just call me!

2) Be specific and positive and personal in your feedback. What did they do, be specific and how many times did they do it? Who did their positive behavior effect and what was the positive, concrete result of their positive action? I lay this all out in my E.R.A.S.E.R. Method. If you want to run it by me you can email me or call me before the end of the year and I will help you because it’s so valuable and so important to do well.

3) End your email with an extra thank you. Something from the heart. Even if you’re a left-brain, just the facts person it’s ok.
The email I got was more valuable than I initially thought it was. Do your best to support and motivate people you lead. If you’re on my newsletter list, I have more than likely met you and have shaken your hand, I think about you and care about you and value you.

If you would like to read more about Self Promotion, Bragging that Works here is one of my articles.  https://bodylanguagelady.blogspot.com/2014/11/why-you-should-bragg-and-tips-for-self.html

Patti Wood, MA - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com.