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A Culture of Honest Feedback Builds Winning Organizations

Monday, February 12, 2018

Ditch your sandwich appraisals and use honest, clear feedback to maximize staff potential

As the industry has moved away from the antiquated annual process to the more dynamic, continuous feedback process, appraisal methods have come under scrutiny.

During the performance evaluation modernization process, many of us have forgotten that face-to-face feedback needs overhauling too.
As a result, many managers and supervisors are relying on inadequate one-to-one feedback techniques that actually undermine their employee's evaluations.

One ineffective but prevalent technique that needs to be ditched is often referred to as the sandwich appraisal.

This feedback technique, where you position negative feedback in between two pieces of positive feedback in order to soften the blow, became fashionable a few years back. It has stubbornly persisted for years due to force of habit; but sadly, it is undermining the evaluation process.
For this reason, the sandwich appraisal deserves some serious debunking.

Staff Want to Be Told Straight – They Don’t Want To Be Patronized 

Research from Schwarz shows that managers hold the following misguided beliefs about giving negative feedback.

  1. “It iseasier for people to hear and accept negative feedback when it is sprinkled with positive feedback.”
  2. “The sandwich approach provides balanced feedback.”
  3. “Giving positive feedback with negative feedback reduces worker discomfort and anxiety.”

But the reality is that staff don’t want sugar-coated bad news.
When the staff of those same managers were asked how they wanted to receive feedback, many were adamant that hearing niceties first worsened the blow. They wanted to cut to the chase and hear the bad news straight up. Delaying the inevitable bad news with positive precursors was in itself anxiety-provoking.
Tell it straight. Don't ruin a positive with a negative.

Top Performers Thrive on Negative Feedback

Remarkably, research shows that staff actually thrive on negative feedback and turn it into a learning opportunity.
A study by Leadership IQ found that nearly half of employees fail in the first year or so, and a key reason for that is that they can’t accept negative feedback. The founder of Leadership, IQ Mark Murphy argues that “high performers are often high performers specifically because they’re good at accepting feedback and using it as fuel for personal growth.”
Murphy uses Peyton Manning as an example of a sportsman whose brilliance is based on his critical self-awareness. Peyton spends hours studying films of his performances and is always open to the feedback.
Negative feedback will maximize your staff’s potential.

Toughen Up

The message to managers out there is that it is time to toughen up when doing appraisals.
Winners and A-Players (the kind of folks you want to attract and retain) want to hear negative feedback to enable growth. They are prepared to take negative feedback on the chin.
In fact, some of the toughening up may have to be on the side of managers.

Research shows that managers use the positive sandwich as a way of alleviating their own stress. It’s this sandwich approach that leads to the unbearable suspense – and it’s the reason it has to go.

Of course, it’s all well and good telling you to ‘hang tough’ in appraisals, but it does need to be done right.
You always knew where you stood with Darth Vader, but few would advocate his approach to giving negative feedback. If you are about to shift to a more direct approach to negative feedback, make sure not to over-compensate for years of sugar-coating by going overboard.

Being direct is not the same as being aggressive; barking out criticism could alienate even A-Players. Negative feedback delivered assertively is the order of the day.


Jorgan Appelo, management consultant and industry advocate of direct negative feedback, has outlined a simple 5-step technique to giving it to your staff on the chin that will work in the office.

Step 1: Describe Your Context
“The CEO is breathing down my neck for these reports.”

Step 2: List Your Observations
"You have missed three deadlines."

Step 3: Express Your Feelings
“This puts me in an awkward position with the boss.”

Step 4: Explain The Value
“Without these reports, we won’t get next year’s budget.”

Step 5: Offer Some Suggestions
“You are better than this. How can you ensure this work is completed on time? What can I do to help?”

This is constructive but direct criticism free of threats, anger, or negative labels such as ‘incompetent’ or ‘stupid,’ and it will motivate the recipient – not alienate them.

360-Degree Appraisals Can Add More Weight to Criticism

Negative feedback (and positive feedback for that matter) can be enhanced by 360-degree appraisals –  collective feedback garnered from the employee’s colleagues.
It’s hard for employees to question criticism that has been voiced by several colleagues as it has more weight. 360-degree appraisals also depersonalize the criticism, potentially reducing defensiveness, meaning the employee may more readily accept the negative feedback.

Ideally, your evaluation process should take place in an environment of continuous feedback, so that the employee does not receive a nasty surprise at the year end.

To ensure damage limitation and to promote a quick fix, give feedback immediately. Such feedback could occur on a monthly basis or after each project.

Positive Feedback Is Allowed – Just Bin the Sandwich

You could be forgiven for thinking that we are declaring war on positive feedback. We are not.

Positive feedback is beneficial. Just don’t artificially sandwich it around negative feedback in order to bury bad news – it’s counter-productive.
If an employee’s overall performance is inadequate, we shouldn’t withhold the positives, but the overall tone of feedback during the appraisal – while still constructive – should rightly be negative.

Without this honest feedback, your employee won’t get the message to improve and will continue to fail.

Of course, if you are sitting an employee down to give isolated negative feedback about one situation only, then there’s probably very little room for compliments.
Any charity you have on offer should be channelled into maintaining a professional, non-confrontational demeanour and keeping a supportive, constructive, and optimistic tone once the bad news has been laid out.
Remember , your role as a manager is to guide and teach. Any negative feedback must be supported and followed up by suggestions on how to improve and the tools to do it.
With the right balance of challenge and support your employees will reach their maximum potential.

The positive sandwich appraisal is well past its sell-by date and is no longer fit for human consumption.
Modern workers don’t want or need sugar-coating; the ensuing suspense actually increases stress and undermines the appraisal process.
Assertively delivered negative feedback will do much more good to your organization, motivating and focusing employees and enabling them to reach their maximum potential.

Image Credits: 
Fig 1. P2 - Journal of behavioural studies
1. The Sandwich Feedback Method: Not very tasty. Journal of Behavioural Studies in Business Volume 7 - September 2014:
2. Leadership IQ Study:
3. 5 Step Negative Feedback Technique:

Learn how 360 degree feedback can help you identify workplace dysfunction

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Workplace dysfunction
As an HR manager, you have built a career out of connecting with and understanding people. You empathize with the unhappy employees; you want to improve things. You just need a good place to start.

Dysfunction can begin almost anywhere in an organization; a disgruntled employee who makes everyone around him miserable, a frustrated manager that wasn’t promoted, or a cunning staff member who is expert at stirring up trouble without getting caught up in it. Such dysfunction doesn’t make the entire company bad to work for... just one or two areas. Most companies probably fall into this category.

You may have heard of 360 feedback, but never paid much attention to all the hype. Things like that are often short-lived fads that last a few years at most. What you may not know is that HR performance management software based on 360-degree feedback has become the preferred HR performance management solution for 90% of companies.

But what about companies that seem to be dysfunctional to the core? Let’s be straight -- no performance management software will fix that. Some fundamental changes will have to take place within the company before any HR performance management software can be expected to help improve workplace culture.

You See the Dysfunction, But Can’t Figure Out What’s Causing It

Over time, you have witnessed a slow decline in employee morale. You see it in reduced productivity and increased absenteeism. The cheer that once pervaded the building is all but gone, but you can’t figure out why. Sure, there are a couple of supervisors that need to work on their interpersonal skills, but they don’t account for the dysfunctional malaise that’s set in. The financials are good -- no recent layoffs, no fact, your company has started growing again. What could it be? Why are so many employees unhappy?

Without a smoking gun to point you in the right direction, it’s virtually impossible to identify workplace dysfunction. Traditional HR performance management software is utterly useless because it lacks the depth and frequency of feedback you need to sniff out the source of the dysfunction and begin addressing it. There is a solution, however: 360 degree feedback, or 360 feedback for short.

What Is 360 Degree Feedback?

At its core, 360 Degree Feedback is a method that provides an employee with feedback from managers, supervisors, and co-workers, as well as self-assessments that pertain to that employee’s productivity, efficiency, job skills, and soft skills. The insight provided through this comprehensive feedback empowers the employee to actively participate in identifying what he’s doing right and where he need to improve.

How Do I Implement 360 Feedback?

Most 360 feedback systems are at the core of sophisticated HR performance management software. The software provides the tools and processes you need to easily and efficiently implement 360 feedback throughout your entire organization. Within it, you’ll find tools for administrative tasks that help you easily create the surveys, distribute them, and process the data collected from them. Employees find the surveys easy to fill out and submit.

What are the Benefits of Using 360 Feedback Performance Management Software?

HR managers using 360 performance management software begin to see a difference within a short time after implementation. Increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and improved employee morale are just a few of the benefits you will see.  How does 360 feedback accomplish this? Through the comprehensive, objective feedback that is provided for every employee. Patterns emerge in the performance data that point to painful places and/or people in your workplace. Once you have identified the source(s), you can use 360 feedback to provide you with the information you need to effectively address issues with other employees and managers.

Objective Feedback on Employee Performance

Employees and staff who provide feedback for an employee are kept anonymous. This helps eliminate biases in feedback that may discriminate against employees. The result: an objective measure of the employee’s job skills, interpersonal skills, and productivity.

Comprehensive Training Needs Assessment 

One of the biggest advantages of 360 performance management software is its ability to perform training needs assessments on employees. When an employee’s skill proficiencies are known, it becomes trivial to identify skills the employee needs to improve.

Active Employee Participation in Career Development

Unlike traditional employee development models where management dictated what employees had to learn to further develop skills, 360 performance management engages the employee through her direct participation in deciding on a career path and the goals she sets to get there. Employers who use this approach have found their employees are much happier with their jobs and go much further in their careers.

360 feedback not only provides objective employee performance feedback, it also encourages frequent acknowledgement of an employee’s accomplishments, something often lacking in traditional performance evaluations. 360 feedback understands this, and provides the HR manager the tools to help her provide the acknowledgement employees seek when they consistently deliver above average performance or accomplish something significant, such as acquiring a hard-earned certification.

Organizational Development

Dysfunction in an organization is symptomatic of some unseen developmental needs within the organization. The feedback gained through 360 feedback helps identify the pain points your employees experience which, in turn, point to the causes of the dysfunction.

When you know what’s causing your employees pain, you can take action to improve the painful process and stop the pain. Employee morale is restored, along with gains in productivity.

Team Development 

To get the most out of your team, its members must work together like a well-oiled machine. 360 feedback provides the information you need to assess team performance and identify areas that need improvement. The participatory nature of 360 feedback means that your team members will also actively contribute to identifying and eliminating the obstacles that hold the team back. 

Align Employee Development with Company Goals 

The most successful companies have employee development goals that are tightly aligned with company goals. 360 feedback performance makes it easy to align your employee’s development goals with business goals.

What Does It Take to Implement 360 Feedback?

If your company has never used 360 feedback software, then the first step is to create a communication strategy that educates and prepares all employees and management for the transition. Implementing 360 feedback is often disruptive to entrenched work culture and practices. The transition process goes a lot smoother when everyone expects some bumps in the road during the implementation of 360 feedback.

What 360 Feedback Performance Management Can’t Do

360 feedback performance management is a powerful tool, but it can’t work magic. It won’t work as a band-aid over a toxic, severely dysfunctional work culture. If you work in an organization where everyone is miserable, major changes need to take place before 360 feedback can be considered a viable option for organizational development. 360 feedback management is no magic bullet -- it’s a process that takes sustained effort over time. When properly implemented, it provides the kind of feedback your organization needs to maintain a happy, productive workforce.  


Primalogik 360 integrates with BambooHR

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We at Primalogik are proud to announce our recent partnership with BambooHR! While Primalogik focuses on the performance evaluation side of human resources management, BambooHR serves as an HRIS platform, boasting core features such as applicant tracking, onboarding, time-off tracking, electronic signatures, payroll and much, much more.

BambooHR provides a great tool for handling employee information in one interactive platform. Once you've synchronized our systems, employee information stored in Bamboo will automatically be updated in Primalogik 360 so there's no need to do the work twice.

Setting up the integration on Primalogik 360

Worried about your employees having to access yet another platform? With the SSO integration, users in your organization can easily access Primalogik 360 by clicking a link within Bamboo's portal without the need of another password. This saves time and effort for everyone all around. When we say the systems are integrated, we mean it! See this article for more details on the integration process.

Human Resources management doesn't have to be a daunting task. Start your free trial and combine our two systems to create an HR powerhouse!

What Makes Human Relationships Irreplaceable in the Digital Age

Monday, July 10, 2017

Human relationships are at the very core of virtually everything we do.
There is hardly a person on this planet that is not touched by some kind of human relationship. The qualities that define human relationships defy reduction to data points. Human relationships are based on deeply felt trust, belonging, and connectedness with others. Such feelings simply do not compute.

These qualities of the human experience cannot be synthesized into charts and graphs with analytics tools. They are what drive human innovation and engagement the world over. In fact, without trust, a sense of belonging, or connectedness with others, we wouldn’t have any recognizable cultures or societies.

Indeed, we wouldn’t have relationships at all.

So, what are these qualities and why are they of prime importance to us? How do they make human relationships irreplaceable in the Digital Age?

Join us as we explore these questions and attempt to answer them.


One of the most fundamental aspects of human relationships, trust is the glue that connects us with one another. At its core, trust is about being able to count on another person to fulfill a promise, honor an agreement, or do the right thing when presented with a moral dilemma.

Without trust, few relationships survive very long. Even the most dysfunctional relationships involve an element of trust rooted in knowing what the other person is likely to do.

In the absence of trust, there is little to hold us together.

The Role of Feelings 

Feelings are the barometers of our inner worlds, shaping our awareness and informing us about others in a way not possible with mere logic, reason, or analytics.

Logic and reason render human relationships as two-dimensional drawings, empty representations of the facts. Without feeling, the graph is meaningless.

Feelings are part of what make human relationships irreplaceable. We love our visual data and statistics and the logic used to create them, but we place supreme value on our feelings. Without them, we would no longer be human.

The Need for Human Interaction

We humans are social by nature. We have a fundamental need to interact with other human beings. When we are deprived of human interaction, we quickly descend into mental illness, even insanity.

Why is that? Human interaction, and by extension, human relationships are a fundamental human need. We may love the camaraderie of our favorite MMORPG, but nothing compares to seeing an old friend or hugging a loved one.

No matter how far the Digital Age takes us with new technologies, we will still crave physical human contact. It’s what makes human. Indeed, it's what makes human relationships irreplaceable.

The Importance of Touch

The keystone to human relationships is touch. In an article in Psychology Today, Ray Williams, President of Ray Williams Associates, says that scientific research has correlated physical touch with decreased violence, greater trust between individuals, improved well-being, and other benefits.

The importance of touch cannot be over-emphasized. It is the fulcrum upon which our most meaningful human relationships balance. Without touch, we lose an important dimension of human experience that connects us with others. Not even millions of followers on Facebook or Instagram can begin to compare with the power of touch and its central role in human relationships.    


We desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves, and human relationships provide us with that opportunity. Through our relationships, we experience a deep sense of belonging that is based on being accepted by others and our own acceptance of them. 

Social media may promote a deep sense of belonging through connecting with (thousands of) others, but it has fallen far short. In a recent NPR Shots article, Holly Shakya, Assistant Professor in the Division of Global Health at UC San Diego, says, "What we know at this point is that we have evidence that replacing your real-world relationships with social media is detrimental to your well-being."  

Social media may try to replace physical human relationships, but it is doomed to fail. Only genuine, physical human relationships can provide a lasting, deeply meaningful sense of belonging.


David Bornstein, writer for the NY Times, mentions Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self Sherry Turkle and her book Alone Together in a discussion of significant increases in loneliness. As of 2004, one in four Americans shared that they had no one with whom to discuss important matters.

While some futurists praise the technological advances of the Digital Age, few seem to be paying attention to the long shadow it’s casting on human relationships. It would seem that, the more we are involved with Internet-based relationships, the lonelier we get.

Social Media

Facebook is a towering social media leviathan, with nearly 2 billion users as of May 2017. Then there are Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, plus many others. 

In an ironic twist, some research has shown a correlation between greater social media status and declining mental health, including lower self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Unironically, one of the most effective ways to reach out to someone with social media addiction is to physically be there for them, spending time with them and offering them support.

The idea is to replace the time they would otherwise spend on social media with quality physical time working out or just hanging out.

What Does the Future Hold? 

While no one can accurately predict the future, we know many things will change, and life in the distant future will be very different from today. In the future, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots may be an integral part of our lives, with some even conversing with us as though they, too, were human. They may even be programmed to love us as though they were human. But, no matter how close AI can come to mimicking human thoughts and behavior, no matter how life-like robots become, they will still be technological marvels, and nothing more. A hundred years from now, we will still yearn for and seek out relationships with other humans.

Why annual reviews fail and how continuous feedback succeeds

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why companies are doing away with the annual performance review

The Annual Performance Review is almost universally hated by managers and employees. For decades, it has been the tool of choice for evaluating the performance of employees and their overall value to the company.

Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), found that 77% of HR executive believe that performance reviews don't accurately reflect employee contributions. Rose Mueller-Hanson, HR Practice Leader at CEB, says that "Our research shows that individual performance ratings have absolutely zero correlation with actual business results."

This blog post talks about how the Annual Performance Review has failed...and what has emerged to take its place. We'll also share some insights that can be used to help your company make your performance reviews more relevant and less hated.

How 3 Companies Are Redefining Performance Management

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What GE, Adobe, and Google are doing to redefine performance management and how to apply their strategies to your business

The Annual Performance Review is widely loathed. Josh Bersin, an HR analyst and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, says, "Our research shows that more than 70% of all organizations dislike the process they have, and I have yet to talk with an employee or manager who likes it at all..." As more companies move to an agile business model, HR must move to toward a continuous performance management strategy that provides employees with ongoing, actionable feedback.

This article covers what three companies have done to redefine their HR performance management strategies and the results they have seen. We'll also show how you can use what these other companies have done to help you redefine the performance management strategy for your business.

How 360 Feedback Software Solutions Address Performance Management Challenges

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

360º feedback is a powerful HR Performance Management (HRPM) tool that can be difficult to implement and maintain. Software innovations in HRPM provide software solutions that aim to make 360º feedback much easier to work with. It is important to understand what 360º feedback is and its limitations before choosing a software solution. An effective 360º feedback software solution should be easy to implement, configure, and use. It should also provide user access management and customizable performance management tools. Moreover, 360º feedback software should also preserve the anonymity of individual reviewers while delivering aggregated data in formats that are easy to understand. Finally, an effective software solution should be able to quickly adapt to changing business needs.

Conducting Performance Management the Right Way

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Invest in your best asset: your employees

Engaged and satisfied employees are at the core of every successful company. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. What does perplex and stall many organizations is how to best capture and manage employee engagement and performance. For decades we have been striving to do this, with varying success.

"A lot of our performance management systems don't do a really good job of capturing ideas or insights...They capture hours or things that come off an assembly line, and the world just doesn't work that way anymore." - Brian Kropp - HR Practice Leader, CEB, The 3 Performance-Management Mistakes You Need to Stop Making