How to Provide Effective Employee Feedback
The vast majority of people come to work every day with great intentions. They want to do well, succeed in their role, and achieve positive results. Of course, people frequently fall short of these goals. When employees don’t achieve your desired results, it can be frustrating, but have you ever thought of it from their perspective? Have you made it clear what is expected of them? If you want your employees to succeed, you have to make sure you’re both aligned on job performance expectations. One way to do that is by providing effective feedback.
What is Feedback?
Feedback is a form of communication to employees aimed at their job performance. Giving employees honest feedback can be difficult and many new leaders avoid it. However, without feedback, your employees can’t learn their jobs and what is expected of them.
Feedback is objective information about job performance. Even when negative, it is not intended to belittle or berate employees and should not be used in that way. Demeaning or overly harsh feedback can lead to serious problems with motivation and performance.
There are four important questions every employee wants an answer for that they may never actually ask about.
- What’s My Job?
- How Am I Doing?
- What’s My Place in this Organization?
- Does Anybody Care?
Feedback helps answer these questions. Your employees may not ask them out loud, but you can be sure they’re thinking about them – and your job is to answer them!
There are two main types of feedback: Developmental feedback and Motivational feedback. You need to be able to use both to get the most out of your employees.
Developmental feedback is aimed at teaching or instructing employees on how to do their job better. An example is telling an employee that their paperwork is incomplete and then teaching them how to fill it out properly.
For developmental feedback to be useful to employees, it must present constructive ideas for improvement rather than come across as insulting or insensitive.
Developmental Feedback should be:
- based on observable behaviors
- accurately reflect what the employee did
- given close in time to the actual performance
- focused on the BEHAVIOR, not the PERSON
- related to performance goals and expectations
- used to teach alternative behaviors
Motivational feedback is aimed at energizing, directing, or sustaining behavior. This type of feedback is generally used as reinforcement when an employee is doing a good job or to encourage them to strive even more.
To be effective, Motivational Feedback should be specific. You want your employees to understand exactly what they are doing well. Motivational feedback must be genuine and sincere. Too often, supervisors will give half-hearted compliments. It must be frequent –don’t wait for the annual performance review to tell them what they are doing well.
Improving Your Employee’s Job Performance
You need to provide both developmental and motivational feedback. The two go hand in hand and answer, one way or another, all four questions mentioned above.
All employees want to know how they’re doing. They want an opportunity to improve and build on mistakes as well as be recognized for success. If you don’t provide feedback, your employees will be left in the dark. Help your employees to come out of the dark and read the writing on the wall. They crave it and, if delivered appropriately, they will accept and use the feedback to make sure they are on the right track. It’s not always comfortable giving someone negative feedback, but it’s necessary to keep your operation running smoothly.
Again, keep in mind that both motivational and developmental feedback are equally important. Your employees want to know how they can get better, but they also want to know when they’ve done a good job. A well balanced diet of both types of feedback and necessary follow up will yield greater job performance from your employees.