Giving Effective Feedback to Employees

In a series of articles on this topic we will be looking at how to give really effective feedback to employees in different situations and circumstances to enhance management engagement, communication and achieve real improvements or change in behaviour.

In this first article, we look at types of effective feedback and pull from Nora St-Aubin’s interesting article in an Officevibe blog post.

Employees WANT feedback – even in negative situations it is much better to give feedback than to ignore the issue, so managers need to have the tools in their management toolkit to effectively give feedback – no matter what.

According to  Gallup 2017 State of the American Workplace, “Employees are more likely to learn and grow when they receive immediate feedback that is specific, targeted at their development and able to be put into practice right away.”

Feedback to Employees

Reference: Sunil Subbramaniyam

The critical success in giving feedback is firstly ensuring that the employee knows and understands what they should be doing (clarity), that they have the tools, skills and experience to successfully do their work (enabling), and that they are given the scope to do the work (delegating and acting). Then, a manager can give honest, fair and constructive feedback at the right time. This whole process, as outlined above, generates trust and accountability. The only other critical issue is ensuring that the manager is able to set goals and then give appropriate feedback.

There are a number of different types of feedback:

  • General feedback: Often not effective as the feedback doesn’t relate to specific actions: e.g. ‘You are doing a good job.’ – what work does this refer to – is the employee good at everything or only some things? – it is too vague.
  • Negative feedback: Necessary in some circumstances but needs to be very specific in it’s application: e.g. ‘You did not achieve your sales results in that particular product category – here are the figures’. This is a fair comment – however always add on the action – ‘Let’s look at what can we do to resolve this and improve your performance.’
  • Constructive feedback: Specific feedback on details that can be helpful: e.g. ‘You came across as very negative at the team meeting – lets discuss this and see what the issue is’ rather than ‘You are always being negative – it’s very difficult for others to deal with’. Use words such as ‘I have a concern about’ or ‘I’d like to discuss when you …’ so that it is an opener to a discussion – not a stopper of conversation. Continue to draw out details by comments such as: ‘What do you think…’, or ‘Yes, that’s a good point. Can you explain why you couldn’t achieve…’
  • Positive feedback: Obviously when a manager says something really positive. Ideally this should be timely – as telling an employee they have done a great job 6 months after the project/sale has completed is a real opportunity lost. Always give prompt positive feedback, this can be informal (in passing conversation), formally at a meeting or a performance review, or by email. Positive feedback is most beneficial when it is face-to-face or in a meeting environment where the employee is then recognised by their manager and others.

In series 2 we will look at particular feedback opportunities for managers.

Voltedge Management