Giving performance feedback to employees is an integral part of being a supervisor. Doing so in the appropriate manner is the key to positive employee development and improved employee retention.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when providing constructive feedback, be it negative or positive:
- Constructive feedback must be focused on issues and not emotion, and based on observations and not hearsay or speculation. The information discussed in the session should be factual and without room for interpretation.
- The feedback session should be conducted in person and not by email or over the phone. It might feel uncomfortable to be face-to-face, especially when discussing negative behaviors, however it is important to see body language and grasp tone and manner, both of which are difficult to gauge in an email.
- Speak clearly and be forthright. The more ambiguous the feedback the more difficult it is for the employee to understand what has to be improved or even what you are complimenting. Being ambiguous almost guarantees confusion.
- Provide balance when giving constructive feedback. After all if you have an employee about whom you can say nothing positive about their performance it is clearly time to terminate them. Most of the time employees demonstrate a combination of good and bad performance and it is beneficial to include observations about both positive and negative behaviors when providing constructive feedback.
Are you unsure about “how” to provide constructive feedback? Here’s your game plan:
- Set the stage and explain to the employee the purpose of the feedback. You may tell them that you have a concern, want to discuss ……..or share thoughts about ……….
- Describe what you observed. Be as specific as possible. (I saw that……)
- Provide an opportunity for the employee to respond and if they don’t proactively volunteer their thoughts or feelings, you can prompt them with an open-ended question. (What do you think?) Remember that you are discussing something that is “factual.”
- Offer suggestions on how the situation could have been handled differently and hence with a different outcome. Or, if you are praising a positive occurrence, provide feedback on each aspect of their behavior that was executed well so they may replicate the positive behaviors.
- Make certain that everything that you said in the feedback session was clear and that the employee understood the key points. Always summarize and get their agreement.
- Conclude the conversation by mentioning your support and end with something positive.
With the high cost of employee turnover it makes good business sense to ensure that C-level executives and Managers have the requisite skills to implement effective constructive feedback sessions.