Giving effective feedback is a critical skill in the performance management process and an area that many people managers find challenging.
When I was new to management I was lucky enough to have a great boss who was also an amazing mentor. Following feedback, I would leave his office motivated and knowing that I could address the areas highlighted and that I would get the necessary support along the way. I have also attended many great training sessions on feedback over the years and in this blog and training video I have pulled together the most important steps. Read on below video
What is Feedback?
- Feedback is the process of giving someone specific examples about the impact of their behaviour on others during the completion of a task.
- Feedback is given a timely manner, when the example is fresh so a person can understand the impact of their actions.
- Feedback is focused on improving future performance rather than punishing past performance and is given with the intent of supporting another person to succeed.
- Feedback is both positive and developmental.
- Positive feedback reinforces positive actions and behaviours so a person is aware of their strengths, as you want these behaviours to continue to be utilised.
- Developmental feedback focuses on areas for improvement with a view to growing an employees skills and competence. It provides the employee with an opportunity to learn.
When a manager is skilled at giving feedback they can motivate employees to address issues and to develop new skills and competencies.
Prior to sitting down with the employee to discuss performance issues, prepare your feedback:
- What key message do you want to give?
- What outcome are you looking for?
- Based on previous experience, how would you expect this person to respond?
- What objections might be raised (see the issue from the other persons perspective)?
- Prepare specific examples to support your feedback and to help the person understand the issue.
- Look at alternate approaches the person could have taken for a better result
- Decide on the influencing style(s) you will use based on your knowledge of this person? You will find links to free influence resources on our website
Set up a meeting letting the person know that you want to discuss performance issues. This can really help, as the person is aware why you want to speak to them and is mentally more ready than being caught off guard.
- Find a quiet location where you can give your undivided attention.
- Ask permission to give feedback. To be effective the person needs to be open to feedback. If they are not make a note of this.
- If you are uncomfortable giving feedback, acknowledge your discomfort.
- Give specific examples, describe the issue or behaviour and state what you observed.
- Explain the impact that resulted from their approach or behaviour. Make sure the employee understands the difference between intent and impact. With the best of intentions their approach can have a negative impact.
- Ask the person for their point of view and what could they do differently for a better result.
- Make recommendations for improvement and describe what higher levels of performance look like.
- Make sure the employee understands the feedback. Ask employee to summarise what they heard (this can help if the person is not actively listening or is being defensive).
- Highlight the person’s strengths and how these can be leveraged to address issue areas.
Successful feedback sessions lead to employees accepting the feedback and being motivated to take the necessary actions. Your approach as a manager is vital to achieving this.
- If you are nervous about the discussion do a role-play with your manager or a mentor to prepare.
- Focus on the behaviours not the person.
- Ask the person to hear you out before responding and be sure to actively listen to the employee when they are talking.
Manage emotions or emotive language.
- Manage your tone of voice and body language
- Don’t use general statements or loaded terms e.g. you always or you never
- Don’t come across as judgmental, use phrases like I noticed, I think that, I am concerned about.
Analyse your own approach after the session; reflect on how the meeting went. If it did not go as planned, what did you learn and how can you improve your approach.
Download my free Performance Management Guidebook for additional information on managing employee performance.