How You Communicate Performance Is as Important as When and Why

123RF Stock Photo
123RF Stock Photo

It’s annual performance review time for a lot of organizations right now.

This is a frequent topic of conversation within Globoforce as we strongly believe the annual review presents only a fragment of the picture of employee performance told from the point of view of one person. The rest of the story must be told by the people who interact every day with the person being reviewed – their colleagues and peers.

And no, I’m not advocating the traditional 360 degree performance review process, either, which is fraught with its own set of problems (ably described in this post by Dr. Wendell Williams).

Instead, I encourage the use of strategic recognition in which any employee can recognize any other for demonstrating core company values while contributing to achieving strategic objectives. These detailed messages of appreciation can then be correlated to the performance review process, creating a detailed,complete picture of an employee’s contributions throughout the year and across the organization.

Delivering performance feedback employees hear

But even once a complete picture of performance is made available, how is that information communicated to the employee? A colleague shared with me just last week an assessment of her own preferences. It reminded me a bit of a Myers/Briggs style survey, but the end result of this particular survey is “How I Want People to Deal with Me.”

My colleague’s report on this page gave detailed insight into how best to present him with feedback, direction, work planning, and basic communication style. As I read through just this one page, I wondered: “How much better would his performance review experience be if he were presented with the information in this style?”

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You don’t necessarily need a formal assessment tool to understand how your employees prefer to receive information. Good managers know their team members well enough to know their communication style. Great managers take the extra time to adapt their own delivery style to how their employees can receive important feedback.

If you’re conducting performance reviews in your organization now or in the near future, are your prepared to customize how you conduct the performance assessment conversation for each of your team members? Or do you just run through each meeting as quickly as possible to “get it over with?”

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


2 Comments on “How You Communicate Performance Is as Important as When and Why

  1. Annual performance appraisals have their place as a formal system. They serve as a discussion forum that allows all concerned to examine an employee’s performance over the bygone year. However, this process must always be balanced and complemented with abundant recognition and real-time feedback throughout the year.

    Jappreet Sethi

    Follow on Twitter @HR_Whiz:twitter 

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Jappreet. That’s our position as well, and a point I’ve blogged on before.

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