Your employees crave receiving feedback on how they are doing but you often fail to give it…why is this? Perhaps it’s because you’re “too busy”? Or you’re “afraid to make people uncomfortable” because that may turn into stress and lead to bigger problems such as attrition? Or, maybe you honestly “don’t know how” to give constructive feedback effectively?
This article explores the powerful nature of giving on-going, consistent, constructive feedback to your employees to facilitate open communication, strengthen relationships, and foster a trust-based culture. In fact, mastering the art of constructive feedback is the number one contributor to growth in retention rates and employee engagement.
First: Be Mindful of the Content You Intend to Deliver
- Be sure to step into the mindset that you are a supportive leader, and then show up in that frame of mind
Consider the feedback content you want to share with your employee.
- What was promised to be delivered (the performance expectation)?
- What isn’t working?
- What is working?
Remember to focus on the business context at hand – do not express frustration or anger with the employee. Stay focused on the business context of the situation. Focus the impact of the person not meeting their commitment, or missing their goal, or their disruptive behavior and the resulting impact on the success of the entire team.
Next: Choose the Time and Place
Timing is important when you want to deliver constructive feedback to your employee and sooner rather than later is imperative if you want to affect the behavior in a positive direction. Be thoughtful in the timing and the setting of the conversation, so that your message is more easily received.
- Choose a place that will make you both comfortable whether it is a coffee shop or a conference room – your choice. It’s best to not have these conversations on a busy day at work where there can be many distractions (i.e. holiday celebrations, client meetings, etc).
- Ensure you both have privacy to talk freely
- Remember that regular, consistent feedback is welcomed. Share what is going well frequently. Share opportunities to fine tune along the way.
From There: Be Prepared and Specific
- Schedule an appropriate amount time to allow for a quality conversation and completion. For example, 10 minutes spent in a quality, well directed discussion is more impactful than an hour spent dragging out the topic and discussing things that are not relevant to the situation at hard. Be on point in your discussion and plan your time wisely.
- Bring specific examples with you to the meeting about their recent performance that needs to improve.
- Ask them if they understand the impact of their performance on the rest of the team. If they have trouble seeing the impact, help them get it.
- Give generously of your time during this meeting to help the employee see how their results and behavior has an impact on others around them (both positive and negative).
- Ask questions on where they have experienced hurdles with reaching their goals and what could have it made it better.
- Ask what you can do to help them get on track.
- Help them select structures to get on track (e.g. interim goals, check-in meetings, a mentor, etc.)
Finally: State Your Support to Build Trust
Ask them what do they need from you to be more effective or to correct course where they are missing their goals?
- Actively listen to their response and reflect back to them what you understood from what they shared. Take notes of what they are saying to you if needed, to be sure you really get to hear what their concerns, hindrances or obstacles are.
- Work together to evaluate what resources and training they need to improve.
- Gather their input, discuss a reasonable solution and reach an agreement.
- Unless you already have regular weekly check-in meetings with the employee, schedule a cadence of regular follow up sessions.
- It’s critical for you to show up to each one of these meetings. You’ve given your word to provide feedback and show your support for your employees. Through your actions – showing up when you say you will show up. In doing that, you demonstrate your commitment, and, you also model the behavior that you are holding your employee to. In other words, make a commitment and then deliver on your commitment.
Sharing Constructive Feedback Consistently Pays Off!
Depending upon how you look at it, giving constructive feedback can be challenging or it can be exciting, especially because no two employees are the same – each case will have its own flavor of nuances and each case, will have its lessons for you to grow as a manager. When you hone your skills to deliver feedback sessions under any circumstance, you’ll be able to turn a poor performance situation around, capitalize on good performance cases, and ultimately gain high productive and motivated employees!
For guidance regarding Constructive Feedback, Performance Management, Employee Relations, Leadership and Executive Coaching and Development, and all things “HR”, The Pendolino Group is here to support you and your team.