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it – but you have to handle it in a positive
way,” he said.
The third and best option, says Cook,
is to figure out how to ask for what you
want the employee to do differently, in a
way that’s entirely positive.
“When you do this, the focus isn’t on
what the person did wrong in the past,
but on resculpting what you need now
and in the future – what should have happened
rather than what didn’t,” he said.
So if a report didn’t cover the ground a
manager hoped it would, he might reach
out to the employee and say, “Thanks for
the report. I really did appreciate the
work you put into it and I’m wondering if
I could see even more information,” said
Cook. “Could you expand a bit on point
X? And I’m really interested in a highlevel
version of point Y, in addition to the
specific version you’ve given me, which
I’m going to use, for sure.”
On the receiving end, says Cook, an
employee hears that a manager valued his
work and is looking for more help, and
he’s got specific instructions on what to
“I think it’s a much healthier way to
give feedback,” said Cook. “I would then
get really specific about when you want
the task done and ask if they’ll do it.”
Cook admits this approach takes
“It’s more work on the leader’s part to
recast all the negative feelings and present
them as positive potential rather than
failure,” he said.
This is where managing is moving more
and more into the realm of coaching. A
recent report out of University of North
Carolina’s Kenan-Flager Business School
supports this idea. Researchers there
found that workers no longer see their
managers as subject-matter experts, as
they did a generation ago. Younger workers
who’ve grown up with the Internet
believe all the expertise they need is
available at their fingertips. To them, a
manager’s role is to serve as mentor and
coach, helping them constantly learn and
grow on the job.
“Communicating – and doing it well
– is an integral part of PM,” said Tolovi
Neto. “When it’s done right, the byproducts
of that are employee engagement
Great performances, organization-wide,
aren’t going to happen organically. And
while a lot can go wrong with PM systems,
with strategy and effort, a lot can
go right, too.
After all, the tenets of performance
management are solid: a recent CEB
study found setting goals increased performance
by 36 per cent. And even
feedback – a touchy subject at best – can
be productive if it’s done positively.
“If the system is properly designed, activated,
sponsored and understood by all
involved, it can be a great method of building
employee engagement,” said Papa.
Business is changing, so the systems
that support our organizations – and
our people – shouldn’t be stuck in neutral.
The most successful PM systems
will evolve with the times, stay nimble
and reflect what drives, encourages and
maintains the best possible employee
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HRPATODAY.CA ❚ MAY/JUNE 2016 ❚ 23