Feedback-1In my last blog I talked about how to have a difficult conversation. For some leaders, giving feedback is considered a difficult conversation, especially if the feedback is negative. But here’s the thing.  As a leader, one of your responsibilities is developing your people. And one of the best ways to do this is by giving regular, timely feedback.

And guess what? Employees want to receive regular feedback, even negative or “redirecting” feedback. In a study reported in the Harvard Business Review, 92% of respondents agreed that “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”  In that same study, 69% of respondents said they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

So when your employees are performing well – let them know it. And when they need improvement – let them know it. Don’t wait until the annual performance review. Without acknowledgement of their good performance, those who are performing well may lose momentum. And without feedback and coaching to improve poor performance, employees may assume that they are doing just fine.

Waiting until the annual performance review significantly reduces the impact of the feedback – whether positive or constructive – and in cases where improvement is needed can often prolong and increase the impact of undesirable behaviors. Here are 5 tips for giving feedback effectively.

  1. Make it timely. Saying “thank you” or “good job!” soon after an employee has done something extra encourages them to continue. Likewise, discussing performance issues “in the moment” helps reestablish expectations and initiates the improvement process sooner rather than later. If you allow a performance issue to continue without bringing it to the employee’s attention he or she may not even realize it’s a problem.
  2. Be consistent. Be sure you’ve communicated expected performance levels and behaviors to all your employees and then give feedback consistently based on those expectations. This will prevent the appearance of favoritism.
  3. Make it clear. Use the SIE format – Situation, Impact, Expectation.  State the situation – “Being at work on time is essential for us to be able to meet the needs of our customers.  You’ve been late three mornings in a row.” State the impact – “When you’re late, others have to make your deliveries which impacts the schedule.” State the expectation – “I expect you to be at work and ready to start deliveries by 8:00 am every day.” When employees understand the adverse impact of their actions they’re much more likely to change them.
  4. Write it down. Writing down employee issues serves two purposes. First, it provides the paper trail necessary to prove you have a valid reason for corrective action or termination. Second, it holds the employee accountable for their actions.
  5. Own it. Feedback needs to be about something you’ve observed, not something you’ve heard second hand, and it should never be delivered when you’re angry or upset. Also, find a private place to have your developmental discussion.

Both positive and constructive feedback should be given in the spirit of recognizing people for what they achieve and helping them be the best they can be.