login


Google Sign inLinkedIn Sign in

Don't have an account? 

Providing Feedback You Disagree With

Feelings aside
Handling Promotion
Feedback
Conflict solving
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

17 May, 2018

Justin Reidy talks about how his high performing report received worse feedback than he had recommended during a review, and how he helped the report to work through it and ultimately improve from it.

Problem

I had a high performing direct report who, as part of our career process, was calibrated by the organization to receive a lower review than I had recommended. I knew my report would be extremely disappointed to hear this, especially given all of the hard work they had done. I was faced with presenting him with a rating I didn't agree with in a way that would mitigate my direct report's disappointment and would inspire him to do even better, despite already doing really well.

Actions taken

The first thing I needed to do was to adjust my own mindset - I needed to disagree and commit to the overall rating that the rest of the organization had come up with. I then looked for two specific things. Firstly, I looked at all of the positive things the report had done over the course of their review period. Secondly, I looked for ideas so they could deliver work that would address the direct feedback they had gotten from their review process. I was then able to go into the review with my report and could talk him through where he was marked down, how he felt about it, and then talk about what we could do to address his areas of (perceived) weakness. Giving him room to experience his frustrations but quickly providing suggestions after this to focus him on future outcomes really helped. While there was very definite frustration and anger at first, following a week or two of follow-on discussions and one-on-ones the direct report started focussing on the next review period. They absolutely crushed it, and their next review was calibrated even higher than I had recommended.

Lessons learned

This is a great example of how even when you are presented with an organizational decision with which you disagree, if you react to it in the right way you can end up with an ultimately positive result. Always give people enough room to have emotional responses and for them to work through things. Often, as a manager, you have had enough time to work through everything in your own head. However, when you are delivering bad news, your direct report hasn't had that same time, so you'll need to give them the space to process what they're hearing before rushing to next steps. It's okay for people to be angry and upset and for them to be heard, but you need to be careful to acknowledge it without joining in with it.


Related stories

Why Psychological Safety Is More Important Than Ever During the Covid-19 Pandemic?
30 June

Murali Bala, Director, Software Engineering at Capital One, discusses the importance of psychological safety emphasizing its unparalleled significance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Remote
Feedback
Team reaction
Feelings aside
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Murali Bala

Murali Bala

Director, Software Engineering at Capital One

Managing a Perfectionist: A Lesson Learned the Hard Way
27 June

Krzysztof Zmudzinski, Director of Engineering at Egnyte, recalls how he handled -- with much difficulties and frustration -- a perfectionist on his team.

Underperformance
Internal Communication
Feedback
Firing
Krzysztof Zmudzinski

Krzysztof Zmudzinski

Director of Engineering at Egnyte, Inc.

Three Goals To Consider When Building a Career Ladder
25 June

Julien Plee, CTO at Synthesio, reveals how he built a career ladder guided by three goals: (1) providing engineers with a vision for their future, (2) justifying salary increases, and (3) providing engineers with a clear sense of understanding of what their mission is.

Salary / Work Conditions
Handling Promotion
Julien PLEE

Julien PLEE

Chief Technical Officer at Synthesio

Know When To Walk Away: Handling a Toxic Working Environment
15 June

Ben Coats, Solutions Architect at InfoArmor, shares how continual denial of his formal advancement and an overall lack of understanding impacted his self-confidence and feelings of professional worth.

Feelings aside
Toxic atmospheres
Ben Coats

Ben Coats

Solutions Architect / Principal Engineer at InfoArmor

Getting Promoted: How Can KPIs Help
30 May

Krzysztof Zmudzinski, Director of Engineering at Egnyte, discusses how he used KPIs to evaluate the performance of one of his senior engineers and how that led to his promotion to a principal engineer role.

Handling Promotion
Salary / Work Conditions
Krzysztof Zmudzinski

Krzysztof Zmudzinski

Director of Engineering at Egnyte, Inc.

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.