Companies grow on the strength of their employees, but those who don’t receive effective feedback simply cannot be expected to do their best. Giving employee feedback isn’t easy — it may even be your least favorite part of being in management — since no one wants to be the “bad guy” or say things that hurt other people’s feelings.
Fortunately, there are ways to offer feedback that will keep morale high and give your employees the information they need to improve their job performance.
8 Tips for Giving Employee Feedback
Whether as part of a performance review or for any other reason, giving difficult feedback to an employee is sometimes necessary, and it’s up to their manager to provide that feedback effectively. After all, the goal is to help an employee reach their potential, not leave them feeling criticized and incapable.
These eight suggestions can help you, as a manager, deliver feedback to your employees in a way that is both understanding and effective:
1. Provide Development Opportunities
Offering employees opportunities to improve industry-specific skills year-round shows that the company is invested in their employees’ growth. Having programs in place also makes it feel less punitive when further follow-ups are needed.
2. Ask Permission
“May I offer a suggestion” is a much better approach than “Let me tell you something.” Approaching a subordinate with respect for their skills and experience helps create a more open mindset. Asking the person’s opinion achieves a similar goal; it shows that you believe in their ability to be a part of the solution.
3. Stay Goal-Oriented
Receiving feedback can feel personal and critical even when it’s not intended to be. Avoid statements that reinforce the idea that an employee is falling short. When goals are communicated, constructive criticism becomes a way to realign performance for the sake of meeting those goals. It transforms into a collaborative conversation about adjustments and achievement instead of what the person is doing wrong.
4. Address Issues as They Arise
Giving difficult feedback to an employee becomes even more problematic when you avoid it. Understandably, a person might feel ruffled when the boss brings up an issue that happened months ago, so providing actionable, in-the-moment feedback as often as possible creates a more positive environment and makes giving and receiving feedback easier for everyone.
5. Respect Privacy
Speak with employees privately when offering feedback. Some people handle constructive criticism well and have no problem receiving feedback with others present, but for others, even the slightest hint of criticism in public can feel like an attack.
6. Create a Dialogue
Let employees know that their feedback is also welcome. Integrate employee surveys, team feedback sessions, and other opportunities for open communication into your routine. When employees know their company cares about their opinions and is willing to make changes based on those opinions, they will be more open to receiving feedback themselves.
7. Make a “Sandwich”
It’s a well-worn approach to critique but an effective one: Begin and end a feedback session with positive information. Let the employee know what they are doing right and why their contribution is appreciated.
Keep your comments sincere and truthful while sandwiching the constructive criticism in the middle. Opening with a compliment will help the employee be more receptive, and closing with something positive will ensure they leave the meeting feeling confident about their place in the company.
8. Keep Suggestions Actionable
There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving feedback that’s vague and provides no clear path to improvement. Before giving employee feedback, an employer should consider what the goals of feedback are and help their employee develop steps to meeting those goals.
Effective Communication Is Up to You
As an employee or manager, you set the tone for productive feedback in your workplace. Giving employee feedback doesn’t have to be the worst part of the day if you approach the exchange positively and follow these tips.
The business attorneys at Sul Lee Law Firm in Dallas, Texas, are available to answer your questions about handling sensitive inter-office feedback.