Tips for employee feedback
This past week I delivered two employee engagement workshops in Victoria on Vancouver Island. What a beautiful place and what an amazing and energetic group of managers in both sessions! For those new to this blog – welcome!
Many of the conversations I had during and after the sessions seemed to gravitate towards dealing with performance issues. So this week, I am focusing on some basic tips for providing feedback to employees.
Give it to them straight.
When behaviors are observed that run contrary to expectations, you need to have the courage to take the employee aside and tell them the truth. Don’t put your head in the sand and hope the issue resolves itself. Yes it can be uncomfortable for both parties – but this is what managers are paid to do.
Don’t make the mistake of protecting people’s feelings at the expense of the truth, because without your honest feedback they will not see the need to improve.
When things go wrong – avoid praising effort.
“At least you gave it a good effort.” It sounds encouraging and positive, but studies show that consoling people for the amount of effort they put in when they fail – actually makes people feel less worthy and less capable.
Instead, share your positive belief in the employee and that success can be achieved if they take the right actions. Focus on things that are within their power to control. Be specific about what needs to happen, and help them figure out what tangible steps they can take to improve. Helping your employee figure out how to do it right is just as important as letting them know what they are doing wrong.
When things go right – avoid praising ability.
“You’re a great people person.” It sounds positive, but studies show that when we are praised for having high ability, it makes us vulnerable to self-doubt when we encounter difficulty later on (this concept applies to the way we praise children as well).
Instead, praise the aspects of your employee’s performance that were under their control. Praise the observable actions they took – not the person. For example, talk about their creative ideas, their careful planning, their determination to see the task through to the end etc. That way, when they run into difficulties in the future, they will remember what behaviors helped them to succeed in the past and put these to good use.
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