Providing Feedback to Your Employees

This week we are focusing on ways to provide feedback to your employees. This is the third blog in this month’s series providing practical tips for employee development.

I took my question to the streets and contacted many colleagues that either now or in the past have managed large teams of people as well as some top human resources consultants and senior executives. I asked for their best tips to share with you regarding how and when feedback should be given to an employee.

Before you even start, if you aren’t comfortable or don’t have much experience in the area of giving feedback, you might want to practice. Out loud. If you stumble during the delivery, the message will not be taken or heard the way you want it to be. A situational listener will only hear the good stuff.

Its a given that feedback will be (or should be) provided during the year end performance review. Overwhelmingly I heard, why wait until the review? If you manage or lead a team, start today by giving constant, consistent feedback to those that report to you.  A thirty+ year executive recommend to also know WHO you are talking to before you start the feedback process. What is the persons style or personality? Tailor your comments to best reach through their personal communication style.  Another great piece of advice was for you the feedback deliverer to be “totally present in the moment”  with the feedback receiver. That means turn off your computer, your phone and don’t allow for interruptions. It’s serious business, and the person receiving the feedback deserves your undivided attention.

Give your feedback in person – not over the phone.  It’s a good idea to have the person’s previous years’ review and the mid-year review during your meeting. Prior to the meeting, provide documentation so they have time to prepare for discussion points. It’s not fair for the reviewer to have weeks to prepare and the employee has to think on their feet.  Prior to the meeting you could also have had the employee review their own performance against the competencies and objectives that were (hopefully) set at the beginning of the year and bring their own judgement of their performance with them.

It’s always a good idea to seek out performance feedback from fellow managers that have worked directly with the individual to include in the overall review. This way everyone gets a clear view of the person’s strengths as well as gap areas.

When you do finally meet, focus your comments on specifics such as action or behavior, NOT on the person. You could say, “I noticed that you have been late turning in your reports”, rather than “you seem to be quite lazy” Don’t compare the person to others in the group or department but do explain why each element is good or bad for their personal development or success within the group/department or organization.  Provide specific examples. Don’t be vague.

Give the individual time to acknowledge and respond. You want this to be a conversation, not a confrontation. But do spell out the consequences for not changing or improving on specific issues. Also, try to give some positive performance elements they can build on, and make sure you document what was discussed and agree to timelines for fixing issues if needed.

Everyone wants to know how they are doing in their role. Your employee wants to meet and possibly exceed your expectations. Help them out by providing feedback frequently. I think you will find projects run smoother when needed behavior correction get fixed sooner.

Next week, I will share various feedback processes that others use within their own business or team so you can try a few out and see if any provide a better outline than your current method.