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November 27, 2014

6 tips for giving employee feedback

Giving valuable employee feedback is a learned skill.

Dread giving performance reviews? Mastery Technologies can help you become a better boss.

Workers consistently list opportunities for advancement, clear job expectations and consistent feedback from managers as some of the top predictors of professional satisfaction. As a result, your company’s success in these three areas almost certainly influences workplace morale, employee retention rates and ultimately, the bottom line.
However, providing regular, meaningful and constructive feedback is certainly not easy. That’s why Mastery Technologies offers dozens of online management training courses to help you and your colleagues hone your ability to assess worker performance, using those assessments to advance the interests of your team. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Ask questions: Don’t feel like you have to do all the talking! Start off the conversation with open-ended questions about what the staff member in question feels is going well in their work and what they would like to improve. This frames the discussion as collaborative rather than combative.
  • Be consistent: While it might be tempting to wait until the annual performance review to offer feedback to your subordinates, it’s important to give praise and constructive criticism year-round. The more directly an employee can link your words with their actions, the more likely they are to take the former to heart. It’s more effective to reference something that happened earlier this week than to talk about a project that concluded six months ago. Remember frequent feedback doesn’t have to be formal. Rather, it can be as simple as a quick email congratulating someone on a job well done.
  • Delivery matters: Try to deliver even negative reviews in a positive way. Tone of voice, body language and general attitude all matter enormously in these situations, so be mindful that you are not coming off as overbearing or angry. Belittling or shaming someone is unlikely to trigger the change you want. In fact, it will probably result in high employee turnover!
  • Determine your goal: The Washington Post’s “Career Coach” columnist, Joyce Russell, reminds us that, in forming our feedback, we should always have a specific goal in mind. Typically, that goal will be to help an employee improve their professional performance, which, in turn, helps improve the company as a whole.
  • Do your homework: Before sitting down for a formal review, be sure that you have done your homework. You should have notes on hand along with a brief outline of points you want to cover. Your employees will appreciate that you came prepared and value their time. It can also be helpful to keep a running list throughout the year of each worker’s strong and weak points, complete with the specific examples we discussed above. This will eliminate the need to “cram” before performance reviews and will make the time more substantive, meaningful and productive.
  • Give concrete examples: If you are going to provide constructive criticism, Forbes contributor Erika Andersen advises staying away from generalizations like “you have a bad attitude.” This is too vague to be helpful, and it is likely to immediately put the recipient on the defensive. Instead, have some concrete examples ready to share. Andersen calls this the “camera check.” If you were to show the employee a video tape of them engaged in problematic behavior, what would they see? Perhaps they are on their smart phone during a company meeting or routinely miss project deadlines. The same applies for positive feedback. Discussing specific instances of strong performance show that you notice and appreciate a worker.

If you’d like to learn more about how to give stronger feedback, improving your business and its bottom line in the process, explore Mastery Technologies‘ cost-effective, efficient course offerings today.

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