Giving feedback to your employees can be a difficult challenge. You want to be able to point out their mistakes and flaws so that they are aware of what they are doing wrong, but it is also important not to focus on the negatives too much or your employees will feel discouraged and overly criticised. Taking feedback is difficult and when it is phrased wrong, a suggestion for improvement can make an employee feel unappreciated or not very good at their job. Your critique might even make your employees start to resent you, or cut corners because they feel that meeting your expectations is impossible.
However, when criticism is given in a helpful and constructive way it can actually encourage your employees to do better. So how can you make sure that you are giving employee performance review feedback that is helpful, productive and inspires your employees to improve? Here are some tips for giving feedback in a way that is productive, constructive and motivating:
· One style of feedback doesn’t fit all. Take the time to get to know your employees and figure out their personality styles, so that you will understand what type of feedback they find most helpful. For example, someone who is an emotion-based thinker will need a lot more reassurance and appreciation than a logical-based thinker, who will be looking for practical tasks and strategies.
· Constructive feedback should be based on your observations of what the employee has done and how they can do it better.
· Make sure that you have plenty of time for the meeting, so that your employee doesn’t feel rushed and unappreciated.
· Don’t wait for a long time after the incident to provide feedback. If your employee has done something wrong, they need to know as soon as possible so that they can correct their mistake and avoid continuing it.
· Give specific examples of what your employee has done wrong and right, so that they can understand how to change their behaviours.
· Don’t give only negative feedback. If you only give your employees feedback when they do something wrong, they will stop caring because they will think that pleasing you is futile. Instead, try to balance out positive reinforcements with negative feedback to encourage good behaviours too.
· Give feedback in person. Writing it in an email feels cold and impersonal and there is more room for misinterpretation. Take the time to give feedback in person, so that the employee can clarify and ask questions.
· Give feedback privately. No one wants to have everyone else in the workplace know that they have made a mistake.
· However, once the feedback has been given in person you can send an email or a letter with it in writing as well. This allows both you and the employee to have a record of what has been said to refer back to.
· Figure out where your employee was coming from when they made the mistake. Ask them “Why did you approach the situation this way?” You might find that they had a perfectly good reason for doing things differently, in that particular situation.
· Don’t just criticise, also offer your employee some suggestions on what they can do to solve the problem and what they can do next time to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. They should walk away from the talk knowing exactly what to do and feeling confident and happy about doing it.
· Let your employees know that they are welcome to ask questions for clarification about the feedback.
· Be willing to accept feedback yourself and listen to the suggestions of your employees. This will make your employees respect you more and therefore they will be more responsive to your feedback.
· After you have given the feedback, it is a good idea to follow up. You can check in with the employee to see if they are following the steps that have been agreed upon and if they have improved their performance, you can give them praise. This shows them that you care about their development and encourages them.
These are just a few very important tips to keep in mind when you are giving your employees feedback, so that they can improve their performance in a productive and motivated way.
Jeremy S is a blogger and freelance writer. He focuses on workplace performance and interpersonal tips and has 10 years of experience as a corporate consultant.