Performance Evaluations Are Judgments, Not Feedback

If you want to get anyone to improve his/her performance,
provide the individual with feedback, rather than
judgments and wordy statements about performance.

I have had managers say to me, “I’m a manager and I am
paid to judge people and results.”

My response has been, “You are a manager and you are paid
to maximize performance.  And to do that effectively, you
need to provide feedback that improves a situation, as
opposed to traditional constructive criticism, which is
seldom constructive and often just plain old criticism.”

HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: A judgment is a hierarchical
dynamic.  Feedback is a systems dynamic.  Unfortunately,
traditional performance evaluations and even day-to-day
evaluative comments to employees tend to be judgments,
rather than feedback.

Feedback is the process by which the output of a system
is returned to an input source via objective data in
order to regulate further output.

When it comes to feedback, one of the biggest mistakes
that I see managers make is to assume that because of
their position in the hierarchy, that they have a
responsibility to pronounce things as right, wrong, good,
or bad. 

A comment like, “You placed the material in the wrong
location again” is a perfect example of a judgment, rather
than feedback.

Making judgmental comments that “get things off your
chest” will certainly make you feel good, but it does
nothing to improve performance.

The failure to meet a desired output boils down to:

1. Issues within the system that caused the problem, which
can range from mechanical to cultural and include such
issues as management’s failure to properly train, to
effectively communicate, and/or to adequately equip.

2. Issues with the employee such as fatigue, incompetence,
willful misconduct, etc.

3. A combination of 1 and 2.

By taking a systems approach to providing feedback during
evaluations, you will make the processes of performance
improvement and problem solving more objective, rather
than subjective.

If you would like a free copy of our 1-page flow sheet
titled, “Systems Approach to Problem Solving,” which is
also a great tool for improving performance, send me an
email ( and type on the subject
line: Systems Approach to Problem Solving.

Share With Your Colleagues:
This entry was posted in Tip Of The Week. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *