How to Provide Productive Employee Feedback

As an employer, an essential part of your job is to give feedback to your team members. But how you go about it really matters. Remember that the goal is to help the employee improve, not to punish or embarrass them. When giving productive employee feedback, always make sure that you are doing it in a conscious and mindful way. Here are some tips.

Praise in Public and Criticize in Private

This old saying has a lot of merit. For your team to succeed, your employees need to feel valued. Criticizing them in public can make them feel like they don’t matter. They might wonder if you dislike them personally, and they are likely to become fearful of speaking out or taking creative risks. Make a habit of publicly praising everyone on the team for their accomplishments, and take your criticism behind closed doors.

Start with What They’ve Been Doing Well

When delivering one on one employee feedback, it’s always best to start on a positive note. Talk about what the person is doing well. This lets them know that you appreciate their hard work, and sets a friendly tone for the rest of the conversation.

Bring up Specific Points

Employee feedback is useless if you only speak in generalities. Talk about specific projects or behaviors that you have recently observed. Remember to frame the dialogue in a way that’s designed to help them improve, perhaps by working together to set small actionable goals. Often a specific occurrence offers to opportunity for a “coachable moment”. Done well and showing you care, can greatly improve morale, performance, and motivation.

Focus on Performance, Not Personality

Personality conflicts are inevitable whenever humans gather, and the workplace is no exception. But as a manager, it’s your job to ignore how you feel about an employee personally and focus on their job performance. If someone is doing their job well, don’t criticize them because you don’t like them. And the reverse also holds true. If your favorite employee messes up, you need to give them the same feedback that you would give to anyone else.

Show Empathy

Employees are human beings who are facing challenges outside of work. Always lead with empathy and focus on solutions. Was a single parent late to work because of a child with a medical emergency? Could that time be made up on a flexible basis? Is someone with back problems losing productivity toward the end of the day? What could you do to offer more stretch breaks or redesign the workstation to be more ergonomic? Employees tend to show more loyalty to, and work harder for, employers who are empathetic to their individual situations.

Productive employee feedback can greatly enhance the work environment and can possibly avoid the cost of a bad hire. It is motivating for an employee to get praise, and it’s appreciated when “course corrections” or coaching is needed.


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