You know that employees benefit from constructive feedback. You understand that the opportunity to apply helpful criticism helps an employee perform better and even grow more loyal.
Still, it’s hard to deliver effective feedback. Even the greatest leaders struggle with providing constructive and beneficial performance reviews.
Follow this feedback primer to practice delivering effective criticism.
3 TYPES OF FEEDBACK:
- Positive: “You’re doing a great job in this area.”
- Neutral: “Here is some information you need.”
- Negative: “You need to improve in this area.”
THE BEST TYPE OF FEEDBACK IS:
- Selective—Concentrate on important areas, rather than listing every detail of behavior.
- Specific—“You did a good job overseeing the creative team on the Jones project,” rather than “You’ve been doing a good job lately.”
- Timely—Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
- Descriptive—Give facts. Talk about what you observed rather than what you concluded from those observations.
- Sensitive—Allow a cooling‐off period if either you or the employee is angry, emotionally upset or very busy.
- Helpful—When feedback is negative, explore alternatives for improvement, so the employee has some idea of how to improve.
WHEN YOU HAVE TO GIVE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK:
- Don’t beat around the bush—Simply and clearly describe the situation or behavior that needs correcting.
- Ask for a reaction—Get the employee to talk about the situation and your evaluation of it. Expect defensiveness, and be prepared to express empathy and understanding. Avoid arguing with the employee or debating points raised.
- Seek agreement—If possible, try to persuade the employee, at least partially, that the situation needs correcting.
- Develop a plan—Work with the employee to develop an agreed upon plan for improvement. Be specific. Don’t be overly ambitious because most improvement proceeds in small steps.
- Summarize the discussion—This ensures that the employee understands the problem and what you have agreed to do about it.
- Specify consequences if improvements are not made—Document necessary improvements.
- Follow up—Set a date to get back together and review progress.
FOR FEEDBACK TO EFFECTIVE:
The employee must…
- understand what you are saying.
- accept the information.
- be able to do something about it.
Giving feedback that is truly beneficial requires care and attention—plus ongoing follow-up. Consider helping your employees develop their talent and skills and work more efficiently and effectively an investment in your business.
Roumen Todorov is the co-founder and COO of 411 Locals, an advertising agency that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), web design and online marketing solutions.