Welcoming feedback

It’s that time of year again. At UMHS, we do all performance evaluations at once in June / July timeframe.  360 feedback is key – up, down, sideways and customers.

Performance EvaluationI asked each of my direct reports for at least 6 names – including peers, their direct reports and customers.  Then I requested feedback from those individuals by either email or a phone call.

I just finished answering 8 surveys on colleagues – part of their soliciting feedback on how they are doing.

I sent my survey soliciting feedback on me to about 35 people including peers, internal customers, and direct reports.

The performance evaluation process is better for all if people are honest and forthcoming. As management, we can’t see everything that staff do so we need feedback from others.

Soliciting feedback is an interesting process. If people email me back their feedback on my staff it’s usually pretty positive. If they want to talk by phone it could mean there are some negatives and candid comments they don’t want in writing.  Some people just don’t want anything in writing. I never quite understood that.

Some people ignore the requests to provide input and don’t want to get involved at all. I definitely don’t understand that.

The surveys that we in senior leadership send to each other usually require names. And, the results typically go to a support person to collate.  Names allow direct follow-up to understand the feedback – a good thing – if one chooses to exercise that.

In addition to actual ratings on various statements such as teamwork, communications, leadership, innovation, and responsiveness there are always open ended questions. The 3 key ones we all seem to use are:

  1. What activities or behaviors would you like me to continue doing to help support you and your work?
  2. What activities or behaviors would you like me to improve to support you and your work in a better way in the coming year?
  3. When you see me at my best, what do I do and/or what do you see?

At UMHS, we are in the process of adopting common core leadership competencies which will become a more formal part of the performance evaluation process in the future. Here’s the summary version of the 4 domains:

  • Mission:
    • Creates value for those we serve
    • Visions and innovates
    • Leads change
  • People
    • Fosters and builds teamwork
    • Collaborates and builds relationships
    • Coaches and develops other
  • Self
    • Adapts
    • Acts with courage and confidence
    • Communicates effectively
  • Execution
    • Achieves results
    • Solves problems
    • Aligns culture

I was happy to see one of my colleagues use these competencies in her survey. I wish I had thought to solicit feedback along these new core competencies but it was too late – I had used the same questions as last year. At least I will have a baseline comparison from my first year in this position.

I have pretty good insight into my own strengths and weaknesses. But what others see is important – I can’t fully know what to improve if I don’t get feedback from others so I welcome it. I may be my own worst critic at times.

We do all employee performance evaluations in the same short time period. It can seem like a burden and it takes significant time. But it gives us as leaders a chance to look across our teams at how people are doing, how we can help them grow and develop, and what new opportunities we can provide. I look forward to the process now.

7 thoughts on “Welcoming feedback

  1. Sherry Mason on said:


    Your blog consistently provides food for reflection. Thank you for addressing performance evaluation. I believe that most people have a tendency to not think about their work performance until their annual evaluation, and therefore, do not invest the time to really articulate performance goals or implement an action plan. The competencies that you mention are ones that are applicable to all staff members. Imagine the possibilities If we all remain mindful of our vision. We would be more likely to be successful, both professionally and personally.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Sherry, thanks for the feedback on my blog overall. I like your attitude and view that thinking about your own work performance needs to happen more than once a year. Continuous improvement applies to us as individuals as well.

  2. Rick Moffat on said:

    Great post, Sue. 360’s are one of the most valuable tools available for professional success. One just has to be brave and honest enough to really hear what is being said about you, reflect on it, and act as required. At GE Healthcare, we employed them religiously.

  3. Andrew Gutting on said:

    I think it’s also imperative to reach out to those who are your biggest critics in a more direct fashion.People often shy away from this as it is not easy and takes some level courage. No one gains anything from receiving purely positive and uncritical feedback, save for a temporary boost in confidence and a smile as we leave the office for the day. It is only when gaps in performance relative to expectations are made visible and measured that we gain a focused direction on what to improve as well as the ability to calculate if we are getting closer to meeting those expectations, or not, with that data. This concept isn’t unique to personal job performance, but universal to improvement philosophies in general.

  4. Cindy Danko on said:

    Great comments! I often ask my colleagues – What can I do to be a better associate, team mate, manager, leader, partner? Intently listen to the response and then follow-up. Revisit the individual and ask if they have seen improvement. Following through and making a concious effort to improve yourself and assisting your teammates in their growth will help them to realize that it’s not about blame, it’s about bettering yourself, your team, your organization!

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