George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” That statement is entirely accurate, especially in performance feedback. Feedback can be meaningless, misinterpreted or missed altogether if it isn’t delivered the right way. So, let’s take a look at what these professionals think it takes when giving feedback that influences employee performance.
This question originally appeared on Quora. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What steps are important when giving feedback to an employee?
“…I’m not a fan of canned answers and step by step processes when it comes to leadership development. We’re mentoring people, not programming them. The first place I would start would be in my own heart. Do I want to genuinely develop this person or do I want to label it feedback just so I can tell them how poorly they are doing? Explain why their actions were wrong, not why they were wrong. Give them examples of what would have been right and what would have made it right. Offer your support, everyone needs different support, so make sure you’re speaking about an individual’s needs…”In order to properly mentor someone, we need to kick the step by step processes to the curb. Click To Tweet
William Powell is an organizational development consultant for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“The key to successful sharing of positive or critical feedback is to always start from a place of caring about the other individual…a demonstrated interest in the success of the other person will help the feedback be much better received…Likewise, even positive feedback can be viewed skeptically if not delivered sincerely with appreciation and attachment to an individual’s growth, a team goal, or an organizational mission.”
Eleanor Biddulph is founder of Leading Fully Present Consulting, a leadership development consultancy.
“Be honest, direct and have supporting facts or data to reinforce what you are saying. If the feedback is negative always have a suggestion ready for how the employee can remedy the situation…proactively follow up on the employee to monitor changed behavior…”Don't be afraid to give negative feedback, as long as you're following up like this: Click To Tweet
Roland Amm is Head of Professional Services for South Africa-based software solutions company Saratoga.
“Don’t try to mix positive and negative feedback too much…positive reinforcement is what really gets people to get more done…If someone is deserving of positive reinforcement it should be given clearly and without any asterisks. When you have to give negative feedback, which is unavoidable, resist the temptation to over-temper it with praise. It “feels better” to say things like, ” you’re the best and, here’s 11 reasons why we really like you” but we have this real problem to address. It’s best to make the negative feedback clear, short, understandable, and accompanied by at least some info on how they can change it…make it shorter and to the point, and save the positive feedback for another occasion. The ratio of the two should be overwhelmingly slanted towards “positive” as much as possible.”
Nick Baily has worked for over 15 years as a digital strategy expert.
What’s the best way to deliver feedback that will elicit change in the workforce? There isn’t one right answer, but by taking a look at what the experts are doing or saying can help you decide how to approach the topic.
- Be direct and honest
- Give feedback as soon as possible
- Focus on the positive when warranted
- Care about the feedback and the person
- Support with facts
- Try to mentor, not reprogram
All of these best practices are wholly supported by the world’s simplest performance management software, iRevü. Start now for less than a boxed lunch per employee! Finally, start giving feedback your team needs!