Improve performance by using these tips to give feedback that works, not the 70% that doesn't.  Because my husband has Parkinson's Disease, I've also included some info on it, as it's Parkinson's Awareness Month.

Don't Bother to Do Annual Performance Reviews?


  It's both eye-opening and depressing to read evidence on the impact of performance feedback.  


The majority of performance feedback either has no impact at all or makes things worse, according to a meta study of years of research across many organizations. This is true whether the feedback is positive or negative.  


Even when the organization needs performance data for legal reasons, usually firing, the recorded feedback is mostly positive and therefore not useful. 


Yet most organizations have a formal feedback process, and when it comes time, most managers cringe at doing it, and most employees cringe at receiving it.  


Apparently, it spread in the corporate world starting back in the 1950's based on a major research paper that was quite flawed (see why below).


The more recent research (1996 and 2000) shows the 30% of feedback that works is that which is specific to tasks, not details, and not personal behavior or personality. 


But today's managers are giving performance feedback on skills and behaviors that are far more abstract and complex, and that's the feedback that doesn't work:


"Harry, you need to spend more time on setting a vision and looking at the big picture, rather than focusing on the details."


If Harry could do it, he probably would be doing it.  He'll need more help than that.  




  • Feedback should be given regularly. Build a culture of ongoing performance feedback.
  • Positive feedback is neurologically more effective in helping someone learn something, so catch your people doing what you want them to and tell them.
  • Give feedback that includes WHY - what is the impact of the old behavior versus what you are trying to achieve.
  • Give specific data - examples of what you don't want and what you do want. 
  • Ask employees how they think they are doing and what areas they want to improve.
  • Train managers how to give effective feedback and how to support behavior change. (We all tend to default to old behaviors and need help learning new ones.)
  • Follow up all feedback after giving the employee a day or two to reflect on it.  People need to absorb the comments before they even know what questions to ask.
  • Use annual reviews as a time to set goals and summarize the year's progress.

For my husband it started with pain in the shoulder and rotator cuff surgery.  Two years and multiple diagnoses later, he found out really was wrong. Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder in which cells in a structure of the midbrain called the substantia nigra lose function and stop producing dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for many functions, including motor control and the brain's reward system. Mostly people associate it with a tremor, but there can be many other symptoms and often include muscle stiffness, poor balance, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, speech and swallowing problems, and occasionally cognitive decline.  It's progressive with no cure, and surprisingly little is known about it.  It hasn't had as many advocates as other diseases because in early stages, many people are in denial and don't want anyone to know.  As it progresses, often initiative taking is gone, and speech is difficult.  Michael J. Fox has made huge strides in Parkinson's visibility and research.  My husband is involved in a 5 year study through the Fox Foundation to collect data about the progress of the disease.  He goes to a research center in Boston every 3 months.  Click here for more information on Parkinson's or to donate to the research.
In This Issue
The Awareness Paradigm
Includes ideas on giving effective feedback
 Buy in paperback or e-book version:  Amazon 
Upcoming Training
Managing Bosses, Managing Staff:
May 18, 2015 
6- 7:45pm 
CCYP Mentor Monday
Hyannis, MA
For more:  Click here

Skills for Influential Leadership:
Sept. 28-30, 2015
Gestalt International Study Center
Wellfleet, MA
For more:  Click here
Scary Feedback Stats

40% of all feedback worsens performance

30% has no impact at all

71% of managers never follow up on the performance reviews they give

Better educated managers spend less time preparing

70% of people say their manager is the worst stressor in their lives

90% of HR legal cases can't use feedback that's on file

10.6% decrease in shareholder value when companies employ a full 360 performance feedback process

95% of Fortune 2000 companies use feedback interventions
Rotten Research
Apparently, peformance feedback spread as a useful vehicle in organizations based on a major research paper in the 50's by a guy named Ammons.  He published a highly cited paper reviewing many decades of research, and proclaimed that feedback worked.  Unfortunately, there are two major faults with his paper that weren't carefully considered.  One is that when research showed both positive and negative impacts he only included the positive results, unfairly biasing his paper.  Second, what he was looking at was feedback about motor skills - like assembling something, which is task feedback.  He didn't look at the complexity of responsibilities and feedback we see in organizations today 
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