What’s the best way to give feedback?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The “incredible beauty” of mistakes | A Founder’s Notebook

The key is to ascribe mistakes and problems to weaknesses in a process, not to personal failings. The mistake is therefore a gift — it exposed a weakness in your underlying process which you can now fix.

Ben Foster (Currently advising 10+ companies, 16 yrs PM/UX experience, VP Product at Opower, PM at eBay)
What’s the recipe for invention? – PM Rant

No is not a complete answer; a complete answer is, yes, if only we had “fill in the blank”. You’d be amazed how often simply stating what would make things easier can do for relationships, for earning trust, for identifying root issues, and most importantly for driving innovation.

Unknown (who knows!?)
How to listen without judging — a guide for managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Judge the outcome, not the person. If someone delivers a sub-standard result, then I try to see it as a function of the strategy being wrong or the execution being wrong, but not the person being bad at it. Part of the mentorship challenge is figuring out what motivates the person. Some people respond well to a harsh critique – it shakes them up and gets them focused on really improving. For me, as a worker, earned praise is a really awesome psy… (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Why Startups Should Train Their People – Ben’s Blog

If you don’t train your people, you establish no basis for performance management. As a result, performance management in your company will be sloppy and inconsistent.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals | A Founder’s Notebook

With the reviews I’m about to do now, I have different goals: 1) Listen. Ask broader questions than you get to ask in the course of a normal days work. 2) Congratulate. Step back, view the big picture, and congratulate someone for what they’ve achieved. 3) Focus. Once someone has chosen which company to work for, only one thing determines their success. In a review discussion, can you find ways to increase that?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals | A Founder’s Notebook

Mess ups like that clarified for me what I should NOT try to achieve with a performance review: Not for setting goals goal setting and tracking is too important to be left to a periodic review. Not for reporting on progress people should have clear metrics which they track themselves, so their achievements should be obvious without a review. Not for warning about underperformance if someone is underperforming, you should tell them immediately and… (read more)

Joanne Lipman (Chief Content Officer of Gannett)
Women at Work: A Guide for Men – WSJ

[5 Tips for Men Who Manage Women] 1. Don’t restrain yourself when giving feedback. 2. Actively include them in meetings. 3. Consider them for promotions even if they don’t ask. 4. Cut the cute talk — don’t talk condescendingly to women. 5. Understand that having kids doesn’t mean the end of ambition.

Eli Hoffmann (CEO at Seeking Alpha)
Eli Hoffmann (@EliHoffmann) | Twitter

[I say] Hey. You aren’t hitting your targets. I’m not sure what’s going wrong, but I need you to hit them. What I need from you is a game plan. What’s going to change that will get us back on track? You probably need some time to think about this. When should we meet again to review your game plan? Also, it’s important for you to know that I want you to succeed. If there’s anything I can do to make you more successful, let’s discuss that and I’ll… (read more)

Laszlo Bock (SVP of People Operations for Google)
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “When I want your opinion…”

As you get better at your job, people will ask for feedback. The most powerful feedback is based on data and experience. “Actually, no, we shouldn’t put the Crockpots on sale, because every time we run a promo our Crockpot sales have been dwindling, and anyway, the big online store still sells them for less than we do.”

These are facts, things we can look up and argue about whether they matter. It’s also interesting to get feedback based on test… (read more)

Robert Lakin (Business and Financial Communications Specialist, Formerly at McKinsey)
Working With McKinsey: How to give McKinsey-style feedback: The McKinsey Feedback Model

“When you did [X], it made me feel [Y]. In the future, I would recommend that you do [Z]”

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs – Ben’s Blog

When measuring results against objectives, start by making sure the objectives are correct. CEOs who excel at board management can “succeed” by setting objectives artificially low. Great CEOs who fail to pay attention to board management can “fail” by setting objectives too high.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs – Ben’s Blog

CEOs should be evaluated against their company’s opportunity – not somebody else’s company. Hoping that VMWare can be as capital light as SolarWinds or trying to get Yelp to grow as fast as Twitter doesn’t make sense and can be quite destructive.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Taking To Dos and Moving Up The Y Axis – AVC

If you think about what you are trying to accomplish in a meeting with someone you are managing and you plot the following: one the x axis – whether you clearly communicated the issue to the person; on the y axis – whether they walk out of the meeting happy or mad at you. Dick’s point is you want to optimize for the x axis, clear and crisp communication, and not worry too much about the y axis.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How the “too nice” manager kills your career | A Founder’s Notebook

The “too nice” manager kills your career.

Seth Sternberg (CEO and Co-Founder at Meebo)
Seth’s Blog | Random thoughts about whatever

Set up a weekly meeting with you, the PM, the lead engineer and the lead designer. Don’t make these too frequent – twice a week at most early on in a product lifecycle. Probably no less than every 2 weeks for a more mature product. In these meetings, you have free reign to give very detailed feedback. You can get quite detailed. But then when the meeting’s over, it’s over. No drive-bys, no random comments. Wait for the next one