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Writing Effective Co-worker Comments

April 29, 2001
Related Topics: Performance Appraisals, Featured Article
At Synygy, Inc., a Philadelphia-based company which provides incentivecompensation plan management software and services for major corporations suchas DuPont, Sun Microsystems, and Eli Lilly, co-worker feedback is part of aquarterly performance management system that encourages open communication andgrowth. The company uses these summaries of the characteristics of effectivecoworker comments, and also provides specific examples:

Characteristics of effective coworker comments

  • Make comments that support your scores.

  • Don't make accusatory, hurtful, or "personal" comments. Address behaviorsand the impact of these behaviors on coworkers, the project, etc.-commentsshould not address personalities or motives.

  • Point out positive as well as problematic behaviors. Remember that thepurpose of the evaluations is to provide feedback on things a person doeswell (and to encourage continuing these behaviors) and on areas that needimprovement (and to provide suggestions for improvement).

  • Be as specific as possible; avoid generalities. Try to giveexamples of behaviors you are criticizing. A person who receives a vaguecomment may have no idea what they are doing that is causing yourperception. That means they certainly won't know what to do to change theirbehavior.

  • When pointing out a problem, try to suggest a possible solution.

  • When commenting on someone's progress in correcting a problematicbehavior, recognize intermediate steps in improvement (many behaviors taketime to improve).

  • Be aware of the overall tone of your comments. Again, be as factual aspossible. Don't convey blame. Think about how the person receiving yourcomments will feel when they read them.

  • To the extent possible, your comments should summarize issues that you'vealready discussed with the person during the past quarter. Don't makecomments "out of the blue." This is especially true for mentors.

Examples of effective coworker comments

  • You are driven and motivated in your work. You are very clear about whatyou own within the department. It would benefit the entire department if youpaid more attention to the delivery and tone of some of your comments.Assigning a duty or responsibility sometimes comes across as a harshdirective instead of a transition of duties or responsibilities.

    Whenoffering feedback after being presented with a new idea, it would be helpfulif you recognized the possibility of a new process before immediatelynegating the idea. For example, when it was suggested that we rebuild thefield templates for ProjX, you immediately resisted because of the timeinvolved in implementation without considering the benefits of the change.

  • You are a great asset to the team. You are very professional and focusedon your work. Despite the difficult deadlines for the ProjX implementation,you maintain a positive attitude. You respond to problems without gettingangry or frustrated. You often stay late working and are very conscientiousof timelines and resources. Your most outstanding "value" fromwhat I have seen is your attitude towards continuous improvement. Wheneveryou have free time I see you studying VBA or looking over someone's shouldertrying to troubleshoot a problem.

  • You seem to have lost your focus, which is essential to being successfulon ProjX. This is evident in that you have signed your initials to checklistitems without fully performing the checks for the project, which resulted inpoor quality and client questions.

    You seem to take constructive criticismas a personal attack, rather than assistance from people who are trying tohelp. Your attitude over the past quarter, though it has improved somewhatrecently, has been harmful to your relationship with your co-workers andyour work quality because people on your team to not feel comfortablecommunicating with you. You have the ability to do your job extremely well,but haven't taken the initiative to do so.

  • You have worked very hard to improve your technical skills by increasingyour work with the ProjX field and verification templates and the data modeldocumentation. You continuously work on improving your relationship with theclient and your co-workers, you try very hard to resolve inter-officeproblems quietly and maturely.

    My only criticism is that you tend to justask for solutions to problems without completely understanding what theproblem is -- for example, the rounding problem on the field template from lastweek. Upon understanding the issue you usually can arrive at the solution.

  • You clearly have the desire to run projects but you have to be willing toput in the time on the details and become more thorough before you will havethe ability to do so. Areas to improve: attention to detail, ability tocommunicate plan concepts and system specifics quickly and clearly,Integrator, timeliness.

  • You do what is necessary to make the client happy and are willing to workextra if things are behind. You have an excellent knowledge of the softwaretools and understand how your projects work. You could focus more ontraining your coworkers, which would benefit them and ease your burden. Youhave a lot to offer, don't keep it to yourself. Good client managementskills and client focus. You are a lot of fun to work with.

  • Your job skills and initiative are very good. You are always willing tohelp others solve problems even if it inconveniences you and you are verywilling to work above and beyond the call of duty.

    One thing to possiblyimprove is your skills in managing others and in training others in yourgroup about their projects. You have an intimate knowledge of your projectsand since you designed them, sometimes you take for granted that others onthe team may have more knowledge than they actually possess.

    Sometimes whenfixing a problem, you do not readily explain how you are fixing it becauseyou often work quickly. This is fine for solving problems, but if youexplained the issues a little more clearly, it could be of great service toyour team members.

Source: Synygy

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