Blindsiding an Employee With Negative Feedback in a Review Is Unforgivable

Author: Ron Hiller l  Published Date 1/2013
Blog Category: Performance Management
Have you been blindsided with negative feedback during a review?  "Jack, about six months ago your quarterly report was filled with errors and it arrived on my desk two days late." "What was going on?" Blindsiding an employee with new feedback, especially negative feedback during a review is unforgivable and avoidable; and it is the major cause of stress in the review process.  Why does it happen, and what can be done to eliminate it?
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Why Blindsiding Happens

Face to face employee manager feedback should be given at the earliest opportunity and is preferred over other forms of feedback such as voice mail or email. However that option may not always be available. Privacy, timing, and location issues may run interference with the preferred face to face feedback.  When it is prudent to delay feedback the manager will often rely on making a reference note or wait for a more suitable opportunity to share their feedback. Frequently managers get side tracked and the feedback gets derailed until review time.

Delayed Feedback

The employee walks into the review six months after a performance event and receives the aging feedback that has been kept in moth balls. Outdated feedback serves no benefit to the employee, the manager and least of all the organization.

The fallout of outdated feedback is significant. The organization loses the benefit of improved performance it would have received had the employee be counseled earlier, a fragile trust is created between employee and supervisor and behaviorists point out that it is ineffective at changing behavior.

Why Blindsiding is Inexcusable?

An automated performance management system gives employees and managers a tool they can use 24X7 to help each stay current with performance related comments as they happen, short circuiting delayed or forgotten feedback related issues. A manager can post and store their feedback which can serve as a tickler file and have their face to face at a more appropriate time and release their notes at a time of their choosing to be shared with the employee.
The huge benefit of this approach is to remove stress from the review process because the manager's and employee's cards are all on the table before the face to face review meeting.  There are no surprises as both are current on the year’s activities including the good, the bad, or the ugly.


An automated performance management system is a gift organizations give to themselves and their employees and managers. Automating a cumbersome paper process is a small benefit eclipsed by the creation of a pay for performance culture and improved communications between employees and their managers.


READ - Performance Management Blog "Why Employees Get a Bad Rap"

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