I watched as a mother jaguar taught her cubs how to fend for themselves. She was aware of the dangers of their jungle world and was sharing her wisdom. She communicated to them with low growls and grunts, gave them or nips and firmer bites if displeased, and purred loudly when pleased. I was realized she was giving them feedback on their performance.

When a large male approached for example, one cub made a tentative move towards it but the female put her paw on its head to keep it down. She knew the male would kill her cubs in order to put her back into heat. She gave the youngster a low growl, telling it to stay put, and then she crouched into a tightly coiled spring and readied herself to face the male for a fight... to the death if required.

The wise old male sensed her mood and her fitness and moved on. After a tense moment, she purred and licked her obedient offspring for its behaviour, and then pushed it along so it joined its brothers.

Then I thought about the care that mother gave her progeny, and how she must work diligently with them so they hone their survival skills. She constantly tries to improve their performance and, as a result, they become great hunters.

Imagine if all your own collaborators were guided with that same diligence and were shown
how to improve their own performances. It is wise to invest in your « creative capital » if only to have all the human talent you need to assure your own success.

Here are 6 basic guidelines for giving performance feedback to collaborators, team members and employees.
  1. Give your feedback as soon as you note a less than desirable performance and can demonstrate a better way.
  2. Praise in public but criticize in private so your exchanges can be candid and open. People have to save face.
  3. Start by asking how the other feels about the noted performance. This will allow you to assess the perception they have of themselves.
  4. Ask the other what he or she would improve in a particular performance. It is often easier if they identify areas of deficiency rather than having them pointed out. Pick one or two ideas that you agree with and together develop a strategy to correct them.
  5. Set a time for a next evaluation and ensure the strategy is acted on by following through.
  6. End on a positive note by reinforcing what went well in the performance and how the improvement will impact the whole.

Make sure that you express your commitment to the success of your collaborators often. It’ll be appreciated. And always thank people for making an extra effort to improve their performance.