4 Fundamentals of Giving Fabulous Employee Feedback at the Office
The best managers provide fantastic employee feedback to their staffs frequently … not just during performance reviews or before important projects begin. Knowing how to give valuable feedback that won’t go in one ear and out the other is the key to increasing employee happiness and productivity. (Yes, employees will actually appreciate criticism when given to them the right way. Shocker!) The problem is, many managers can’t seem to give employee feedback correctly all of the time.
Luckily, leaders of all experience levels can learn how to provide useful employee feedback to improve their workforce’s performance and boost productivity.
While there are many ways to give effective employee feedback, understanding just a few techniques can make a significant difference immediately:
1. Be observant
“My best boss ever was the first one in the building every morning. He would get his early morning duties done before most of us got to work. Then, when we arrived at work, he’d break out his coffee cup and spend the first hour of our day going to each department (including the warehouse) and casually chat with almost everyone. It was a fantastic way for him to know what was going on … I mean, REALLY going on … in the company.”
Giving feedback on how employees can improve performance relies on seeing firsthand what is happening in the workforce. Unfortunately, sometimes managers see their own workloads pile high and don’t keep tabs on what’s going on. That leads to them having to rely on what other employees say about a particular worker or project. It is imperative that managers keep up with what is going on with their staff even when their workload grows. Delegate responsibilities if you must, but stay observant. Providing constructive employee feedback is easier when you have solid notes in front of you.
“The other great thing about my boss was that he was direct, sometimes downright blunt. Because of his morning ‘coffee walks’ he knew how busy we were and he didn’t want to waste our time with chit-chat when work needed to be discussed. But because he’d established a good relationship with us already, he could get straight to the point and we didn’t take it the wrong way.”
Providing employee feedback can sometimes be uncomfortable, and it’s easy to get caught up with fluff that really doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Some managers will try to alleviate the negatives they have to talk about by focusing too much on positives and the message gets lost. Others go overboard with bringing up every negative thing about the employee, and the ticked off worker mentally shuts down. Specifically telling them how they can improve is infinitely more beneficial than dwelling on what went wrong. The other key is to focus on performance, not personality. In other words, it’s the behavior that needs to change, not a personality trait.
3. Ask about concerns
Feedback sessions will be more useful if workers have the chance to discuss their performance. Managers should take note of this and ask workers how they feel they are performing. If they have any concerns, it will make the interaction more fruitful.
4. Speak about moving forward
“The thing is, even on an occasion when he had to get on me about my performance, I never took it as an attack on me personally. I truly believed he cared for me as a person and just wanted me to be the best I could be. He was always looking to the future for me, the department and the company.”
Helping an employee improve performance is always the #1 goal of effective feedback, and there is a certain step-by-step way to do it. If something is wrong and needs to be fixed, mention it at the beginning of the conversation. It is important you talk about how the worker can move forward and continue improving. Depending on the situation, schedule follow-up meetings with the employee. Let the employee know the sessions are meant to keep tabs on their progress, and not that you’re watching them like a hawk. And, above all, keep it positive.
Just following these four steps will help you build a focused, more productive team and lead to a happier workplace for everyone.