5 Easy Steps to Thrive from the Employee Feedback Process
Companies that successfully implement employee feedback programs regularly show a 14.9 percent lower turnover rate. When you are in a position to give informal, periodic feedback or a formal performance review to an employee or direct report, keeping the conversation supportive and constructive is an essential skill. Knowing how to give helpful praise and actionable feedback during the employee feedback process takes some practice. Here are a few easy steps to get you started.
5 Ways to Get More from the Employee Feedback Process
1. Understand the Ideal Praise to Criticism Ratio and Start On a Positive Note
Studies of the ideal praise to criticism ratio show that teams with top performance give out over five positive comments for every critical one. While negative feedback is a strong motivator, it’s important to appreciate its power in small doses and use it sparingly. Even when an employee needs to make some serious improvements to their performance, starting a review on a positive note helps them to feel more appreciated and safe in the conversation. In his Forbes article, Ten Biggest Mistakes Bosses Make In Performance Reviews, Eric Jackson, Managing Director at Ader Investment Management, writes, “Say thanks to your people when they do a good job. It’s the cheapest bonus you’ll ever pay.” Once you’ve thanked them for what they are excelling at, it will be easier for both of you to keep their areas of potential growth in perspective.
Hopefully, you made professional expectations for this individual abundantly clear in the past. Setting expectations effectively can be accomplished by being clear about performance goals and dates early on. Setting up a clear authority hierarchy and reporting process provides adequate resources to your team and avoids micromanagement. Reviewing their responsibilities and what you have been evaluating in their work adds clarity and structure to a performance review or feedback conversation. Covering what needs to be discussed before early helps you avoid misunderstandings and vague, unfocused conversations. If you have written copies of previous or current performance reviews, share them with the employee before meeting with them so that you’re starting on common ground.
3. Give Actionable Feedback
Being specific with your feedback can save both you and your direct report a lot of frustration down the road. When giving feedback, be specific and sincere. Tell them specifically what you’d like to see them accomplish within a set time frame. Better yet, let them know how and when you will be evaluating their response to your request. Focus on their work, not their personality traits; for example, instead of telling them they are generally long winded, request a more concise presentation. Again, be specific in your advice. Ask for one to two consolidated points per topic instead of five in their next presentation.
It’s important that you let your direct report have some time to share and respond. Find out if they have understood your expectations and feedback. This is also a great time to ask about their professional hopes and how they feel their current work does or doesn’t tie into them. In her Harvard Business Review article, Delivering an Effective Performance Review, Rebecca Knight writes, “Understanding what your direct reports want from their careers will help you figure out ways to broaden their professional experiences.” When you hear that an employee desires additional training, networking, or collaboration opportunities at work, they are giving you actionable feedback.
5. End on a Positive Note
Closing the employee feedback process with positive notes sets them up for future success. This process is sometimes known as the sandwich effect or PIP (Positive-Improvement-Positive). This reminds the employee that you see the efforts they are making at work and appreciate where they are excelling. It also builds an atmosphere of respect going forward. As well as reviewing what is working, express your confidence that they can make the improvements you’ve requested.
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