Giving effective employee feedback is difficult.
Many managers feel that feedback can lead to an uncomfortable work environment. Thus, they shy away from the feedback process believing that it does more harm than good.
However, contrary to popular belief, employees actually want to receive more feedback.
72% of employees recently surveyed believe that individual performance would improve if managers offered constructive and positive feedback.
(Source: Harvard Business Review)
Now that we have established employees’ willingness to receive feedback, it all comes down to the managers. How they handle the employee feedback process. How the entire feedback is communicated. Also, just how regularly they actually provide feedback.
7 Essentials Tips for Delivering Effective Employee Feedback
Look, I get it. Delivering feedback- either positive or negative- can be a tricky business.
That’s why I decided to make it easier for you. Here are our 7 best tips in giving the most meaningful employee feedback and driving employee engagement in your organization.
1. Don’t wait until the performance appraisal. Make regular check-in’s the norm.
Employee feedback works best when it is treated as a continuous process. Address problems as soon as they happen.
The act of waiting until the employee appraisal to discuss issues can result in unnecessary nerves and tension. With such a stressful environment, miscommunication between the manager and an employee is most likely to see an exponential increase.
Instead, make weekly, monthly or quarterly feedback check-in’s a norm. When an employee gives a good performance, recognize him right away. Similarly, in the case negative feedback is required- talk to the employee on that day itself.
What’s more, regular feedback ensures that employees get real-time updates on their performance.
Subsequently, giving frequent feedback turns it into a habit for managers. This way managers get more accustomed to giving candid and relevant feedback.
2. Don’t include the “Compliment Sandwich” in the menu
Many managers like to bring in the “Compliment Sandwich” during the feedback sessions.
So what exactly is the Compliment Sandwich?
Very often managers sandwich a piece of negative feedback between two falsely worded compliments to soften the blow.
Here’s my advice. Never do it.
Integrating a Compliment Sandwich in delivering feedback can have some rather unpleasant consequences.
- Firstly, it greatly undermines your abilities as a leader. If you pull out a Compliment Sandwich during the feedback, the employee is less likely to take your word seriously in the future. The next time you start praising your employee he will be looking for the “but” to come up in the conversation.
- Secondly, if you’re aiming to deliver negative feedback- it might not work. Some employees may only choose to hear the positive part whilst completely disregarding the constructive criticism.
Thus, it is always better to articulate feedback just as it is. Also, employees are more receptive to genuine feedback which allows them to process and make necessary adjustments.
3. Discuss “performance” and not the “personality”
Feedback should always address the employee performance of the employee and not the person himself.
This becomes even more critical while delivering negative feedback. Focus on addressing the problems instead of berating the employee’s habit.
For example, if an employee is continuously late, instead of saying: Next time be on time.
Say instead: We discussed some important information at the meeting today. We really missed hearing your ideas.
Don’t forget the golden rule of giving negative feedback. It must never be delivered in a mean and hurtful way.
4. Make it a two-way process
Very often, managers give feedback with the purpose to- well- just getting it over with. They don’t observe.
This is the part where your feedback gets real. Giving feedback is not simply a keynote speech that you need to deliver.
It is an incredible opportunity for you to build trust amongst you and your employees. So, stop and listen. Feedback is not black and white. It’s a grey area. Understand the motivation and reasons behind your employees’ performance.
During the feedback, ask your employees’ their reasons behind their problem areas. Ask them about their health, family, and pets. Turn the feedback into a conversation. Only then will the employees actually stop dreading their feedback sessions.
5. Explain the reasons behind your feedback
Let your employees know exactly the reasons behind your feedback.
A well-stated feedback but which lacks the insights about what bought it on is not at all effective.
This is the hardest part of giving good feedback. As humans, we are conditioned to jump to statements and judgments without providing the facts that allowed us to reach that conclusion.
It’s no use tip-toeing around an issue and not discussing the root of a problem. This way the employee will walk away from his feedback more confused than ever.
Don’t simply go: Your performance is not good enough.
Instead, provide real-time and actionable feedback such as:
“I see that you haven’t been able to meet all your goals in time. With you being a good performer, your team could have further benefitted with full contributions. Did you have any problem such as a lack of time, resources or anything such while accomplishing it?”
Always be respectful in the manner you deliver feedback. But always be direct.
Explain in clear terms, how their performance has affected (both positively or negatively) the organization, their team and their peers. This builds a sense of accountability and a clear idea of how to go forward with the received feedback.
6. Establish your expectations
The ending of the feedback session is as important as the beginning.
Don’t leave the employees confused about what they ought to do with the feedback that they received.
Always end your feedback sessions by reaffirming your expectations from the employee. By doing this you set employees up to understand precisely in which areas they need to improve further.
Also, during the feedback process remember to discuss not only your previous expectations but also your future expectations following the employee feedback session.
7. Remember to follow through after the feedback sessions
Managers like to think that their job is done and dusted with after the feedback session is over. The reality is, it has just begun.
Employees might get overwhelmed about how to act on the given feedback. Thus, it is vital that you follow up on the employee and whether they have taken suitable steps in accordance with your feedback.
Also, it is your responsibility to-
- Have a plan to support the employee in his future progress.
- Plan to meet soon after a feedback process to discuss the progress.
- No employee is perfect and there’s always room for improvement. Suggest certain measures or additional resources for the employee to work on any performance gaps.
Feedback is not the easiest process to go through. But if approached correctly, employee feedback is the best way to establish your company’s goals and set effective performance standards from your employee.