One of the most important responsibilities you have as a manager is to monitor and improve employee performance. When you provide effective feedback, performance can greatly improve.
Implement these 10 secrets and you will improve your ability to deliver timely and effective feedback:
- Base feedback on objectives and measures. Measures help you track progress toward meeting objectives. The more you relate performance to objectives and measures, the better employees will understand what is expected of them. If you base feedback on objectives and measures, you also help employees know how they are doing and what they need to do to improve performance.
- Let employees take the lead. It's particularly important to let employees take the lead in assessing performance when you are discussing problems. Invite feedback on how you could help them do a better job. You should encourage them to actively identify difficulties and generate solutions. Often, when given the lead, employees will identify problems themselves, saving you from having to give negative feedback.
- Catch them doing something right. Look for opportunities to praise strengths and achievements. Positive motivational feedback is a major factor in increased motivation and improved morale.
- Provide reinforcement and recognition. Find opportunities to support the good work and new ideas of your employees. Let them know how important their work is to you, the department, and the company. Ask your employees what types of reinforcement and recognition they value.
- Listen carefully and check understanding. Allow employees plenty of time to respond to your questions. When they are finished, paraphrase their statements so they know what you've heard. Ask for confirmation and a summary of what you have agreed on.
- Focus on the behavior, not the personality. If you blame a person or group when a problem arises, you usually elicit a defensive, hostile response. Instead, state in a descriptive, non-personal way that a problem exists, and then describe the problem. In this way, you can partner with your employees to solve problems.
- Be specific. Describe both ineffective and effective behaviors in detail, providing specific examples and illustrations. Be sure that employees receive feedback on those things that they can do something about.
- Let employees know where they stand. Be sure to let employees know where they stand in relation to the expectations that you have outlined and agreed upon. Five-minute meetings for updates or clarifications can save you many hours a month in rework, confusion, and lost time due to low morale.
- Discuss solutions and agree on an action plan. Invite employees to join in mutual problem solving. Ask for suggestions and be creative. Make sure agreements are clearly outlined. Plan exactly what action will occur, who will do it, how they will do it, and when they will do it. Establish follow-up discussions to check on progress.
- Make feedback an ongoing process. Don't wait until scheduled performance reviews to provide feedback. If you deliver your feedback as close as possible to the actual performance, your chances of correcting problem behaviors will improve dramatically. Remember that feedback should be carefully considered, not impulsive, and based on actual performance. Reach out and get feedback from others about your employees. You are not always able to observe employee behavior.
If you know of someone who would like to read this article, please feel free to pass it on to them.
For a free half hour consultation on this or any other human resources related issue, please call Dave Hagel @ 1-866-878-4134.
Dave Hagel is a Certified Human Resources Professional and President of High Performance Human Resources, a company that specializes in providing human resources services to small to medium sized entrepreneurs. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone, toll-free 1.866.878.4134.
Added on June 30, 2006