Noticias de la Escuela de Postgrado de la Universidad del Pacífico

When we only want to give good news

August 07, 2015 | 00:00
César Antúnez de Mayolo
Source: Gestion

As a manager, you have heads who report directly and also several employees in charge. One of their leaders has on his team a partner waiting to be promoted, but is having a mediocre performance. The time has come to tell him/her that that he/she was not chosen for the promotion and to give feedback. As you know, the individual always defends very well against critiques without admitting mistakes and instead blaming namely for third parties-, compared with other better and prerogatives usually asking for more resources to properly carry out their responsibilities. The boss in question is trying to postpone that meeting, because as direct boss has to say that the results are not as desired and that also had complaints of ill-treatment of some people in the area. You perceive that the boss would prefer to have someone else who has to give that feedback to his subordinate, trying to avoid responsibility, but it turns out that it is precisely direct boss. Why is it so difficult to give bad news and find people to improve? How should we conduct a conversation in which bad news are given, especially with people who are usually defensive? 

 ​Good vs Bad News 

Salary increases, promotions or enrollment at training level is very good news and we all like to be in charge of giving them. There will be no need to prepare a speech and while receiving the good news is the favored, so is the intermediary "benefit" you can improve your relationship with the partner, so he had or not participated in the decision of the good news. However, when the news is bad and is about attention or confront the employee in relation to opportunities for improvement, we are hardly excited or start the conversation, feeling that something can go wrong, we could be unemployed. 

A Survey from KEY Group conducted among 1,400 Group employees in the US found that two-thirds of the managers fail to confront underperforming employees. 

Performance and attitude  

Employees who leave everything to the last minute, do not pay much attention to repeated instructions of their leaders, customarily arrive late, comply with half of its pending activities, lodging complaints of ill-treatment, breach of important procedures or have frequent delays in submitting reports? The impact indicators of the area and the weather may be apparent, but when it comes to call attention, we could hear arguments as "I always get the reports I need to do my work late", "they do answer my e- mails on time "," I'm not the only one who is late, " " perhaps has breached a goal when I have to file reports late? "," is that people in this company are envious, there are cliques" "I work hard and my boss, does not recognize or has something personal against me," among other arguments, that may be valid or not. The smarter and experienced is the partner to confront; the best defense arguments will be available. 

In a survey of Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone from Harvard Law School between American executives, they found that only 36% of respondents completed performance dialogues in person to his subordinates in a full and timely manner. In another survey of HR executives of the same researchers, 63% cited as their biggest challenge in organizational performance incapacity or unavailability of managers in handling difficult feedback dialogues. 

Why is it difficult to receive feedback? 

When receiving feedback a collaborator will find tension between two key human needs, which are the need to learn and develop, and the need to be accepted the way you are. That is why if it is a benign suggestion from the boss, this can cause the receiver to perceive as being treated unfairly and come to feel angry, anxious or even threatened. In another survey S. Heen and D. Stone between employees, 55% of respondents said that their most recent performance review was unfair and inaccurate and one in four acknowledged that such assessments fears more than anything in their working lives. As managers, we must prepare ourselves not only to adequately confront our employees, but above all to develop their full potential and be fairer. 

What can we do to confront a collaborator successfully? 

Clearly define aspects of each partner is responsible for the decisions you can make and what is expected from his position. 
Performance Management
We have objective performance evaluation systems, with specific indicators and 360o surveys. 
One thing at a time
It is preferable to focus on a single aspect as an opportunity for improvement. Say much can be harmful and can be seen as a "beat up" rather than a feedback. 
Avoid using adjectives or value judgments and focus on the work and performance, not the person or perceptions. 
Leave a Trace
By giving formal feedback, leave written evidence. There should be an assessment of a commitment to specific improvement, with a specific date. 
When an employee had opportunities to improve performance and has not taken advantage of them. The employee has to know that after a certain period there is no improvement, the result could be more serious.