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Feedback is difficult to provide—and sometimes even harder to receive. But it’s a critical tool for any individual or organization that hopes to improve their impact.
Embracing feedback (on both the giving and receiving end) means humbly acknowledging that we can all improve, no matter how well we are currently performing. Each of us benefit when we engage in honest and respectful feedback conversations with each other, so that we can support each other’s continual development.
On the other hand, avoiding feedback can undercut progress and improvement. In the short term, it prevents difficult or awkward conversations. But in the long run, it also prevents anyone from having a reality-based picture of how they’re performing and holds them back from performing even better.
At Stand Together Foundation, we encourage nonprofit leaders to provide feedback to team members and seek it out themselves. Everyone should be willing and able to provide good quality feedback on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of the year. This type of ongoing feedback fuels growth and can help individuals discover, develop, and apply their unique gifts and passions to the organizational vision.
A regular, formal evaluation can be a useful part of that overall approach. Many Catalysts we work with are curious how to improve their formal performance reviews. Below are two strategies you can use for your own feedback conversations—during performance reviews and throughout the year.
A Feedback Summary is an opportunity to encourage employees—and hold them accountable to clear expectations—on a regular basis. Most organizations in our Catalyst network do this process at least once a year, but you can pick a time period that makes sense for your own team.
When providing feedback, it’s important that your message is clear. A summary document can help aid discussions and ensure key messages are shared and discussed one-on-one with your employee.
Typically, Feedback Summaries include details about each employee’s contributions, development areas, recommendations for how they can improve their contributions moving forward, and ideas for how they can continue to leverage their strengths. The outcomes of these discussions might include adjustments to roles and responsibilities to ensure that everyone is maximizing their unique talents.
As you prepare Feedback Summaries, seek input from internal and external stakeholders who work closely with each team member. Their perspectives will help you find patterns and themes to gain a more complete view of an employee’s performance.
Employee Self-Evaluations empower employees to reflect on their own performance and then discuss their role and professional development with their supervisor. Every team member should feel comfortable bringing their own perspective to the table.
In fact, many nonprofit leaders find it helpful to conduct Employee Self-Evaluations as they gather feedback from others. That way, the resulting Feedback Summaries and discussions can reflect the perspectives of other teammates, supervisors, and the employee.
Consider providing your employees with questions to guide their self-evaluation process. These questions might include:
- What are my most significant contributions this year?
- What is most fulfilling in my role? What is least fulfilling?
- What were some missed opportunities?
- What area of development will help me grow?
- How would I change my role to better align my strengths with the organization’s vision?