Giving timely and constructive feedback is an important aspect of managing teams well. When the feedback you need to give is negative, it may seem like an unpleasant task to do. But if worded carefully and constructively, it will help your staff improve their performance and grow professionally.
Why regular feedback is important
Feedback, both as appreciation and constructive criticism, should be a part of your work culture. Regular performance reviews help your employees know their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for growth. Professional development increases employee engagement and in turn productivity. It’s a win-win for all.
How to give constructive feedback
Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your feedback is beneficial to your staff:
Make sure you do your homework before the feedback meeting. Be clear about the performance issue you’d like to address and what you are going to say. Have the facts and numbers ready with you to support your comments and expectations.
Listen to your employee
Find out the reason for the poor performance. Give your employee a chance to present their side of the story. Did they receive a clear brief at the outset? Did they get the team support they needed? Were there any external factors affecting the outcome? Having the opportunity to explain would help your worker feel heard and valued.
Add a silver lining
It is best to be clear and direct with criticism. If you want to get the message across, do not mince words. However, starting the feedback by appreciating a positive trait or good work in the past is a good practice. It will make your employee more receptive to the bitter pill that follows.
Don’t be vague and make general remarks like ‘You can do better’ or ‘This needs improvement’. Be clear about what is lacking and the specific areas that need work. For example, you could appreciate a well-researched project report while pointing out that it lacks visual elements. This way you are recognizing the effort put into the work, while showing the employee how to make it better.
Stick to facts
Avoid personal comments such as calling an employee lazy or careless. Instead give specific examples where they missed deadlines or submitted reports with errors. Steer clear of sarcasm and anger. Staying objective will make your feedback fair and make the listener more receptive.
After figuring out the reasons for the poor performance, collaborate with the employee to find solutions. Ask your employee if they need one-on-one mentoring or a refresher training. If the issue is due to disagreements in the team, it would be helpful to address those promptly.
Speak in private
This goes without saying. The purpose of constructive criticism is to fix performance issues, and not to embarrass the employee. Avoid criticizing or blaming the employee in front of the team. This would be counterproductive and demotivating for the employee.
Give regular feedback
You don’t have to wait for the annual or quarterly performance reviews to measure employee engagement and give feedback — positive or otherwise. You could make employee feedback sessions a project-end or month-end feature. Or you could do it as and when the need arises. Setting clear goals and giving regular feedback would help your staff improve their performance.
Need help addressing employee performance issues in your organization?
At Peninsula Canada, we specialize in everything HR and health & safety. Whether you want expert advice on handling employee performance issues or have other HR questions, we’re here to support you. Call an expert today: 1 (888) 938-0468.