Tips for Effectively Providing Feedback to Employees

Effectively managing employees involves taking on a lot of roles. Sometimes you need the organization of a master administrator. Sometimes you need the inspirational acumen of a charismatic leader. Other times you need the psychological subtlety of a therapist.

The therapy part comes up most when it's time to deliver feedback. You need to get the message across: There are things the worker needs to improve. But you want to deliver the message with as much tact and encouragement as possible.

Delivering feedback in an effective and constructive manner allows you to better your team over time. Use the following tips to sympathetically and effectively work with your staff to help them improve.

Don't Provoke

A simple fact is that people struggle while receiving criticism. Approach them with a message that is too strong, and you're liable to provoke a defensive response. Now, you're in a loop of recrimination, explanation, excuse-making and counter accusation.

Make sure you keep everything as constructive as possible. Don't focus on what has happened in the past, state how you would like to see it in the future. "From now on, we should try to..." or "Going forward, please focus on..." are much better ways to end your feedback.

Don't Make It Public

Don't humiliate an employee in front of their co-workers. Public confrontation or feedback can often trigger a defensive response.  Instead, provide feedback in a one-on-one situation.

Meanwhile, don't turn delivery of criticism into a formal situation unless it becomes necessary. Waiting for a quarterly review and CC'ing other managers only delays a potential fix. And it increases the temptation for the employee to begin developing excuses.

Focus on Specific Behavior

General instructions are difficult to follow. Things like "put more effort in" or "show more positivity" are squishy and open to interpretation.

Instead, communicate specific, easy-to-gauge goals. If possible, stick to quantifiable targets: A specific dollar figure for a sales goal or a certain production quota. This gives the employee something concrete to strive for and avoids confusion later about whether the worker has implemented your feedback.

Don't Try to Change Too Much at Once

If you inundate people with feedback, it's difficult for them to know what you care about most. An employee can have a number of habits that need to change. Prioritize the issues and take them one at a time. As they fix one, acknowledge their effort and  approach the next issue.

It may seem like you are letting things slide, but focusing on the most egregious problems will improve output faster and lead to better long-term results.

In Their Power

Imagine you're a basketball coach with a shorter player on your team. The player asks how they can improve. You respond, "Be taller."

Does that count as meaningful feedback? Of course not.

A critique isn't worth anything if the employee has no power to improve. Stick to things the employee can fix on their own. Don't bring up team goals with individual employees. And don't try to push employees past the limits of their skill set. If you put an employee in a bad situation, it isn't their fault if they fail.

The ability to receive instruction and improve over time represents one of the marks of a top employee. These staffers embrace feedback, making it easy to work as a team and expand your ability to compete.

Working with a strong staffing firm makes finding these employees easy. Contact United Personnel today to find out what we can do to maximize your staff.