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You owe them an honest critique

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

If you give somebody a bad grade without explanation, that’s not acceptable, says Laura Yecies, CEO of online storage service SugarSync.  

Yet it happens all the time. Why? Because explaining is hard.

Yecies fights the impulse by reading every performance review—not so much to see if she agrees with the assessment but to check whether the manager is being thoughtful.

She noted one manager who read everything employees sent him. He would ask questions and send his thoughts. “It made people feel valued,” she says.

And she’s learned to challenge managers on their assumptions about what’s causing a conflict. They’ll tell her an employee isn’t doing something, going on and on about how angry they are.

Yecies disarms them by asking: “Do you think they’re doing this because they think that’s the better way to get the job done, or do you think they don’t want us to succeed?”

The manager backs away from ascribing bad motives, and she adds: “OK. Well, then, why do they think that’s the right thing to do? And why don’t you discuss that with them?”

— Adapted from “When You Write a Report Card, Explain the Grade,” Adam Bryant, The New York Times.

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