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October 30, 2013

Performance Feedback – A Necessary Evil

Filed under: Performance Pro11:01 am

During one of my previous employment experiences, I encountered a group of managers, CEO included, that were unwilling to engage in the performance evaluation process because the company had placed a freeze on wage increases due to the economy’s frightening effect on the business.  Even though, there is a vast difference of opinion on increasing wages in conjunction with the performance appraisal process or not, one thing is certain:  the performance appraisal process cannot be set aside, because it is an essential part of your organization’s health.

Employees need and deserve to know three things:

  • 1) What are my employer’s expectations of me?  These are the job responsibilities and goals that are initially communicated to an applicant and new employee.
  • 2) Am I meeting those expectations?  This is a communication process to explain how well the employee is producing with the objective of meeting those job requirements.
  • 3) What’s next?  This clarifies to the employee what specific steps must be taken to meet the next performance level.

Each of these require performance feedback.  Dictionary.com defines feedback as “knowledge of the results of any behavior, considered as influencing or modifying further performance.”  Feedback isn’t always pleasant, but how a manager delivers it can determine how well the employee benefits from it.  Here are a few tips for how to deliver beneficial feedback:

  • Keep feedback job related, specific, and objective.  Avoid offering opinions or comments about the employee personally.  It’s all about behaviors and job performance, not the person.  Remember that comments can easily be misinterpreted; avoid careless comments by thinking them through before delivering.
  • Be aware of your facial expressions and body language.  It is estimated that 95% of all communication is nonverbal.  You may “say” one thing, but your facial expressions and body language may be “screaming” something else.
  • Avoid providing feedback when the employee is tired, stressed, or busy.  The same goes for the appraiser!
  • Provide your comments in a professional and courteous manner.  Respect your employee by providing a private setting to avoid interruption from others.
  • Set aside a regular time monthly for ongoing feedback and communication.  This reduces the employee’s dread of the annual performance meeting.  Remember the goal of providing performance feedback is to develop the employee and build on their future with your organization.  It emphasizes the impact their performance has on the organization and on their own success.

Remember, too, what you say, “can and will be held against you.”  Managers should have a basic knowledge of HR law and understand the ramifications of discrimination or even the appearance of it, when providing performance feedback.  It is a skill managers should work to acquire and refine.  Feedback is a very powerful tool when used properly to encourage an employee to be their very best and reach for the next level.

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