Giving honest and constructive feedback to your staff is one of the most important things you can do to develop them. Doing it well really is a skill that you can learn – the day a staff member says ‘thank you for the feedback’ when you have given negative or constructive feedback is the day you know you have done it well. On the other hand, ruling through a letter with a red pen and writing ‘start again’ in large block letters before leaving it on staff member’s chair for them to see first thing in the morning is not optimal.
Here is an easy guide on what to do and what not to do:
Give feedback promptly, as close to the event as possible
Put off giving feedback hoping it will get better
Provide negative feedback privately – in an appropriate space. Open plan offices require careful thought
Give negative feedback in public or in front of colleagues
Prepare what you are going to say and how
Keep a list of problems to give your staff member at the annual performance review
Prepare for objections – most people will automatically want to defend themselves
Be in a rush – your employee is bound to have questions
Where possible, start with positive feedback
Assume that if there are no questions, the employee has accepted the feedback. This could be a time bomb
Have examples of the issue to give to the employee
Discuss the issue with anyone else in the work group
Be specific about the issue
Offer your solutions without giving the employee an opportunity to provide a solution
Make sure the feedback is about behaviour, not the person.
Be vague or have no example
Describe the impact the behaviour has – either on you, clients or colleagues.
Go off on a tangent and start discussing something unrelated
Take your time – show that you have time to discuss the issue
Make assumptions about behaviour
Diary note the discussion
Follow up at a time and date agreed
Give the employee an opportunity to respond
Commit to dealing with issues that may be impacting the performance – eg other under performing staff, systems issues
Be open to receiving feedback yourself
Giving negative feedback is never easy, but once given, you will be pleased it’s been done.
As Bill Gates said: “ We all need people who will give us feedback – that’s how we improve”.
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