Revising Performance Feedback Process: The Millennial Way
Feedback, knowledge of results, appraisal, evaluation, rating, ranking, assessment are some of the terms which generally evoke feelings of stress, anxiety, apprehension, fear, worry, and helplessness in most of us. In the corporate and not so corporate world this time of the year or year-end is a stressful time of the year for employees. Performance evaluation is one of the necessary evils during this time for employers to discuss employee’s effectiveness throughout the year. As a therapist, I have seen my patients, especially young adults (beginners), talk about their stress related to the time before, during, and after their performance evaluation meeting with their boss(es).
Getting low ratings, a problem that affects their career advancement goals and potential unemployment, is a collective fear my patients talked about. Other major worries include meeting expectations of pay raise and bonuses, new roles and responsibilities, etc. All these fears begin as soon as one begins their career. Such prolonged fears, if not addressed, can lower one’s self-esteem and overall confidence, trigger depressive and anxiety symptoms, and may lead to interpersonal issues at work and home.
Job loss is the worst fear they shared in case they are rated below average. Other major fears include matching their expectations related to raise in salary or bonuses, new roles and responsibilities, etc. In a bigger scheme of things, all these fears (on a continuum) begin as soon as one begins their career. Such prolonged fears, if not addressed, can lower one’s self-esteem and overall confidence, trigger depressive and anxiety symptoms, and may lead to interpersonal issues at work and home.
Upon asking some of the young adults about their experiences with employee evaluation meetings, they said,
“Why didn’t they tell me earlier in the year about my performance?”
“Why do they have to be politically correct?”
“Sometimes they are just checking the box, especially when they ask cliché questions.”
“Do they even care about what I want?”
“My boss took so long to get to the point.”
“The one-on-one checks are just a formality.”
In all the above responses, I sensed a lack of trust, communication, and coaching on the employer's part in the process that escalates frustration, anger, and disappointment in employees. What can we do to prevent such negative behaviors and emotions related to work and performance related communication? Some of the coping mechanisms for employees may include: Being aware of one’s emotions, recognizing negative thoughts that trigger stress and anxiety, positive self-talk helps relax and be more rational before or after a stressful event, having a plan-B reduces stress, using guided imagery for relaxation. Some of the protective factors can be family, friends, and colleagues as a support system, expressing one’s feelings about the process to the management if it is a possibility, consulting a professional for guidance and support to overcome the stress related to feedback provided at work.
In my opinion, individuals need to be educated about the core values of most of the organizations; to retain their employees through coaching and training as suppose to firing them from their jobs. Such messages and education will help people to look forward to know about their performance. Employers can modify the process by associating it with a positive connotation using terms like employee progress, development, enrichment, and growth. In conclusion, I believe the uncertainty and insecurity related to jobs in a capitalistic society like ours need a revision of not only the processes but the overall thinking or people who create those processes and policies.