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5 Ways to Enable High Performance Using Effective Feedback

Are your team's performance management strategies hitting the mark or missing it by a mile?

If you're among the 84% of North American organizations struggling to manage performance effectively, it's time for a change. Consider this your wake-up call.

A balance of characteristics make up high-performing team cultures, and feedback is at the core of it. If Michael Jordan’s wisdom is anything to go by, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” It's clear: to shoot for the stars, teams don’t just need feedback - they need effective feedback that’s as sharp and timely as a game-winning buzzer-beater. Let’s lace up and dive into performance management and how to evolve your team with the right feedback strategies.

Performance management and its evolution

Tracing the roots of performance management is like diving into a history lesson that nobody wanted.

Born in the military trenches about a century ago, employee "appraisals" were crafted not for the boardrooms but the battlefield. The old-school approach, adopted by corporate giants in the 1950s and 60s, now fits as well in today's work culture as a floppy disk. Enter the infamous "Rank and Yank" system, a brainchild of Jack Welch at GE, where survival of the fittest meant your colleague’s loss could be your gain. Not exactly a morale booster, right?

Fast forward to today, and a staggering 55% of organizations are still struggling to make their managers effective at differentiating performance. The outdated ways like annual reviews, infrequent feedback, and a glaring absence of support for personal and professional growth create a cocktail that’s more bitter than sweet, leading to distrust and low psychological safety across teams.

So what’s a people leader to do?

Connecting effective feedback and performance enablement

The simple answer is to look beyond performance management to performance enablement.

Performance enablement isn’t just a fancy new term - it’s necessary for modern team success. Put succinctly, it’s a people-centric practice that decentralizes feedback and allows employees to take ownership of their growth while empowering managers to inspire top performance.

It's about empowering employees to excel through ongoing, meaningful feedback, not just annual paperwork. Because timely and constructive feedback is transformative. In fact, 80% of employees engaged weekly with meaningful feedback are fully engaged. This isn’t just management; it's a movement towards creating environments where feedback fosters growth and champions emerge.

Now that we know feedback is a key driver of high performance, how can people leaders champion a future where performance enablement isn’t just an option but a standard?

Ways to enable high performance using effective feedback

Enabling high performance in the modern workplace requires a pivot from the static, passive approach of the past to something more dynamic. That means fostering effective feedback via ongoing interactions that fuel growth and adaptation. Here’s how to make that pivot effective:

1. Prioritize continuous feedback

Annual reviews are out.

Continuous feedback is essential to keep pace with daily changes and ensures employees feel seen and valued in real-time. This involves embedding feedback deeply into the everyday workflow, fostering a culture where feedback is as natural as any other daily task. A staggering 94% of employees prefer their managers address mistakes and development opportunities as they happen, which highlights the need for timeliness.

Constructive feedback requires privacy to maintain trust, while  recognition should be public to motivate and set examples for others, following the principles of effective recognition:

  • Timely 
  • Specific
  • Visible
  • Inclusive
  • Values-based

2. Make sure feedback is reciprocal

Feedback should flow in all directions within an organization to create a high performance culture. That means making space for all voices to be heard.

This approach not only enhances communication but also democratizes the process of performance enablement by involving everyone in the conversation about what works and what doesn’t. Encouraging employees to provide feedback to their managers can unveil valuable insights that drive leadership effectiveness and organizational change. To foster this kind of environment, focus on receiving employee feedback effectively to empower employees, and ensure that managers are as responsive to feedback as their teams are expected to

3. Tailor feedback

Individualized feedback resonates more deeply than generic comments, as it connects directly to an employee’s personal ambitions and challenges. This customization not only increases the relevance of the feedback but also enhances its impact, facilitating more significant personal and professional development.

That said, getting to the spot of tailoring feedback means managers need to know their direct reports and have a stake in their success. Consider the Radical Candor framework as a guide to feedback, which includes managers being vulnerable – not always an easy task.

Radical Candor Framework (

Engage in meaningful career conversations that address individual goals within the framework of organizational objectives, making the feedback actionable and personal. Providing managers with resources on how to write meaningful feedback will also help them convey their thoughts in constructive and motivating ways.

4. Prepare ahead of time

Spontaneous feedback can be necessary (and often helpful!), but impactful feedback is usually well-considered and prepared. Preparing ahead of time means you can think carefully and clearly about what you want to say in the discussion.

Managers should take the time to gather specific examples and relevant data to support their feedback, ensuring that each session is focused and fruitful. Preparation prevents misunderstandings and provides a clear direction for the conversation, which can enhance the effectiveness of the feedback. For a structured approach to preparing and delivering effective feedback, refer to the Manager's Guide to Giving Effective Feedback.

5. Leverage tools & training

Harnessing the right tools can transform your performance enablement from a chore into a catalyst for fairness and efficiency. As McKinsey points out, adopting sophisticated tools isn't just for show. It actually polishes the perception of fairness and transparency in performance management, making sure everyone feels they're on a level playing field.

However, tools alone won’t cut it unless paired with savvy managers who can use them. Managers need a combo of tech prowess and people skills to ensure these tools aren’t just shiny toys, but used for genuine productivity and engagement, whether your team is clicking away in an office, working remotely, or a bit of both.

Essential toolkit for feedback pros:

  • Agendas for 1:1s: Keep those one-on-ones sharp and on-point. Tools like Notion and Google Docs can be your agenda-setting pals, ensuring you hit all the crucial topics without turning meetings into marathons. Use them to collaborate in real-time, keep track of changes, and ensure everyone's on the same page, literally.
  • OKR Generation and Management: Setting objectives and key results (OKRs) is a powerful way to align your team and drive performance. This framework also provides a robust foundation for giving and grounding feedback - one that’s focused on growth, making sure every chat is a step towards grander visions.
  • Set and smash those goals with our AI-powered OKR generator, because let’s face it, even the best of us can use a little AI assist to streamline our ambitions into achievable targets.
  • Public recognition platforms: Nothing says “Wow, what a great example!” louder than some praise and acknowledgement. Platforms like Bonusly not only put a spotlight on stellar performance but also sprinkle a little fun into the mix, boosting morale and directly tying recognition to your company’s culture and values.

Equipping your leaders with these tools and the know-how to use them effectively turns them from bosses into real people leaders, capable of conjuring a culture of continuous improvement and performance enablement no matter where your team logs in from.

Shift towards performance enablement

Clinging to traditional performance management isn’t an option for successful teams. It’s time to upgrade to performance enablement and enable high performance using effective feedback. It’s the evolution necessary to keep pace in today’s fast-moving, talent-driven marketplace.

By integrating smart, flexible strategies, modern people leaders can ensure their teams aren’t just meeting expectations but innovating and pushing for higher performance. Here’s to transforming our workplaces into arenas where everyone can thrive and propel our teams towards success.

This article was sponsored by Bonusly.

People, working on teams, are the primary drivers of business success. Bonusly builds high-performing cultures by delivering an employee engagement solution that amplifies wins, connects teams, and shares insights. The result? Employees who love where they work, are engaged, and deliver business results that drive your company forward.

Discover the difference and try Bonusly free for 14 days at

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Ben Travis

Ben is the founder of HR Chief. He enjoys working with passionate teams to solve impactful problems with technology.

He has a heart for HR/People Ops teams and uses his experience from the startup, agency, and nonprofit spaces to drive results.