If there’s one thing the professionals of Generation Y want, it’s feedback. They are changing the workplace. Bred for success and raised on technology, they are making managers rethink how to deliver feedback.
Current methods show a qualitative difference in feedback. Most feedback emphasizes past performance, while a small amount emphasizes future possibilities. According to Linda Richardson, there are two different languages in feedback.
Evaluative feedback is what most people think of when they hear the word "feedback." It's the kind of feedback managers used to get in a performance review--a focus upon previous perrformance. From the past, however, effective bosses will point out successes and identify developmental opportunities. Too often though, the singular purpose of feedback is to make certain that the receiver clearly understands the picture of his/her past work performance, which, not surprisingly, regularly turns to blame.
Developmental feedback is very different. Rather than looking retroactively, it looks to the future. It emphasizes what "we" (the coach and the person being coached) can do to improve on the past and build needed skills and competencies for the organization as well as for the receiver's career. Furthermore, developmental feedback and coaching doesn't occur in the boss's office. It happens regularly in the corridors and hallways of the organization. Developmental feedback helps professionals improve because it helps them understand the obstacles they face--and assists them in removing those obstacles. Really, it answers two questions: what do we need to improve, and how will we go about that task?
So, are you receiving evaluative or developmental feedback? To be sure you get the latter, you may need to coach your coach. As the current economy makes clear, you must have the initiative to ensure you grow. And make no mistake about it, developmental feedback is absolutely essential to creative thinking, new ideas and personal and professional success.
I'll devote a future white paper to coaching your coach on giving developmental feedback.