Don’t Hinder Your Workforce with Incomplete Feedback

A recent article, documents an all too familiar scenario: Employee A, let’s call him Jedd, is in his annual performance review. Management informs him of a couple of minor things to work on, but overall the evaluation is positive. Jedd leaves the room. The leaders then begin discussing the additional issues they have seen with Jedd’s performance and behavior at work. He often came off as rude or abrasive to many people on his team, he always seems rushed and often was unresponsive to people outside of his team.

But no one brought up these concerns with Jedd. Although it would have been helpful feedback, and ultimately could have led to an improved workplace, the leaders didn’t want to hurt his feelings by criticizing him too harshly. Instead, they hoped that the feedback they did give him would be enough to please his coworkers and they thought the issue would likely ultimately resolve itself.

Not only did this employee need to enhance his Behavioral EQ, so did his leaders. By withholding helpful feedback from him, management was not only hurting Jedd’s potential, they were also hurting the members of his team and as this ripple effect would continue, hindering the happiness and profitability of the company.

According to the article, “3 Tips for Changing Your Relationship with Giving Feedback” author Anese Cavanaugh highlights 3 key points to remember when giving feedback

  • “It’s a gift… People want to be better. People want to grow. You can use clean feedback to support them in all of this.”
  • “If your intention, energy, and presence (your IEP) are right, meaning the intention is to serve, you’re intentional about what you’re going to say, you’re present with them, and you’re bringing good energy to the table, it doesn’t even matter if you do it perfectly–they’ll recognize your intentions, and you can both take it from there.”
  • “It’ll save you time, energy, and money.”

Daniel Goleman’s article “Performance Reviews: It’s Not Only What You Say, But How You Say It,” describes how even giving positive performance reviews can be difficult. Given in the wrong way they can affect people’s emotions negatively and influence their subsequent motivation and behavior. There was one study that showed that positive feedback, when delivered in a negative, cold tone of voice, actually made people feel glum and dejected. But when negative feedback was given in a warm, positive tone it made people feel upbeat and energized to act. Goleman says, “even positive news should come with a positive tone. So add to that feedback a dollop of emotional intelligence.”

Even people with high EQ, in the pure sense of having good emotional awareness and recognition, will not by default be more effective in their behaviors. Behavior is what matters. It is what people notice and respond to. Someone can’t see inside another person’s head to know what they are experiencing, one can only rely on what people say and do. Research shows that behavior is the best predictor of effectiveness. While it’s good and maybe even necessary to have emotional awareness, unless this awareness is translated into behavior it is somewhat meaningless.

TRACOM’s Behavioral EQ Model combines ‘Behavioral Intelligence’ and ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and understand one’s own emotion and the emotions of others as well as having insight into oneself and awareness and empathy for others. Behavioral intelligence, however, is different. It is the ability to recognize the impact that emotions have on one’s own behavior and the behavior of others and the ability to use this awareness to manage personal behavior and relationships. While emotional intelligence alone, is highly useful and extremely important, behavioral intelligence is also necessary, particularly in roles of leadership or management.

Read the Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work Whitepaper here or learn more about Behavioral EQ here.


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