It is said that building trust in the workplace comes down to one’s competence and character. More so, that one’s performance score is largely dependent on the perception of one’s stakeholder i.e. someone that one deals with and can comment on the quality of his or her work.
Now, what if such a stakeholder has a negative perception of the other? It may that he or she does not like their guts, style of dressing, car, height, or appearance. Is this person expected to pass a good judgment on the other? The fact remains that the chances of one getting a better score are higher if there is a good rapport between both parties so much so that certain areas of weakness may be overlooked. After all, we are humans; emotional beings who strive every day to suppress our feelings to stick to our respective professional ethics.
Now isn’t this one of the flaws of 360 degrees feedback? People are made to comment on your performance with no date to back up their claim? I had a case where someone noted ‘I don’t know her much yet commented ‘her response rate is poor’. Can you see the gap/missing link? How come such a person can pass such a comment? I had to question the commentator by asking ‘how did you arrive at this conclusion?’. I also had to draw the attention of others to be as objective as possible.
For me, I reckoned that in as much as it is said that one shouldn’t be defensive when receiving feedback, an avenue should be created where one can seek further clarification on the rationale behind the stakeholder’s comment. Not in a confrontational manner but rather, as a learning curve.
I once underwent a coaching program where 2 areas out of 10 were identified as my weak points. Surprisingly, I thought I was good at them. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride and followed agreements made by my coach on how to improve. In one of such sessions I asked my coach, ‘if my performance is dependent on the perception of my stakeholders, does that mean I should always agree with them? I should henceforth be a YES SIR/Ma person? Her response was ‘NO but …’ which didn’t drive home the point for me. I still need a more convincing answer to that. The repercussion is obvious, you tend to disagree despite being on the right path.
For instance, I had a stakeholder of mine who noted ‘poor response to disciplinary issues’ on his feedback about me (response was anonymous). I was informed of this and I could tell at once who the person was. Luckily, we’re on good terms so 3 months down the line, and in a bid to manage his ego and truly understand ourselves, I asked, ‘how can I serve better?’ what are your expectations of me’. He went on and on while I listened. Lastly, I jokingly and politely reminded him of the comment he’d given on my ‘poor response to disciplinary issues’ and he owned up. His response was ‘you don’t usually sack or fire when I ask you to?’.
I, however, took all his comments in strides and explained to him the reasons behind some of my decisions which he did understand.
My take is that these same stakeholders forget to remember that we are all employees and not shareholders, so we are on the same boat. More so, being HR, we have received several, similar requests to ‘sack’ them (him and others in his cadre) but as professionals blocked such moves by enlightening the BOSS that ‘things are not done this way’ + ‘we’ve got laid down rules and procedures that must be followed’. These policies are to provide a fair and consistent approach to all people’s issues.
In essence, ‘we’ can’t just sack a staff because he or she being a stakeholder has said so while neglecting laid down rules on disciplinary issues. Remember, what goes around comes around. More so, it’s not a case of gross misconduct where staff can be summarily dismissed, but rather, performance. Now this same person has passed such comments on me and I don’t have the room to defend such. Where is justice?
In conclusion, I have decided to embark on a series of Knowledge Sharing sessions to re-enlighten these stakeholders on relevant day-to-day policies, so they could understand some of these basic things and more importantly, the rationale behind my decision as a HR professional with the hope that people would be fair when passing judgments on my work and others as well.