Rules to Keep in Mind When Providing Effective Feedback

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

The best way for employees to produce better work is to be notified of areas of improvement. This improvement process begins with your assessment and delivery of feedback. Although delivering negative feedback can be especially difficult, if performed correctly, it can result in strong future operations. Keep these rules in mind when giving employee feedback to maximize the positive impact of your words.

Timing

It can be difficult to find a perfect time to deliver negative feedback. However, this does not mean the timing of the tough discussion should be ignored. You want to base your conversation around a time that works well for all parties, but avoid discussions immediately in the morning as the message tends to hang throughout the day. Alternatively, avoid meeting at the end of the day when parties are mentally fatigued. Gauge the other party’s emotions, workload, patience level, and attentiveness before bringing up bad feedback. In general, strive to give negative feedback as soon as possible to minimize the detrimental effects.

Specificity

Feedback gains value when it is substantiated. For example, you can mention how an employee has had difficulties communicating. However, specific examples point out exactly what needs to be worked on and provide a target for improvement. Did the employee forget to send an email? Does the employee fail to monitor voicemails? Did the employee forget to inform another employee of an event in a timely manner? By you being specific, your employee has a greater chance of success. In addition, focus feedback on traits the employee can actually work on and make a plan to improve.

Remedy

When giving feedback, extend insight regarding how to improve the negative aspects discussed. Cover ways to get better including training opportunities, resource materials, or informational webinars. Offer your personal services as a method of improvement if you feel you can help remedy negative situations. The goal of negative feedback is to provide understanding that there are ways for the employee to improve.

Tone

Sometimes, it is less about what you say and more about how you say it. Try to be apathetic and encouraging to the employee. The goal of feedback is to raise awareness of a deficiency and establish a plan for making improvements. Alternatively, be firm and indicate why the bad feedback is being given. Stress the big picture to convey the necessity of improvement. Most importantly, frame the feedback in a nonthreatening situation that will be taken seriously. Improvement only occurs if the employee understands the importance of getting better.

Follow-Up

After giving feedback, you want to monitor improvement progress. Schedule a follow-up meeting after the initial discussion to see what changes have been made, and establish benchmarks for employees to strive for, and repeatedly check the results. For example, continually monitor an employee’s arrival time until the lack of promptness desists, and check with the employee to see if recommended resources are helpful or if additional resources are needed. Most importantly, recognize progress and give positive feedback on items that were a problem but have since been resolved.

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