Giving good feedback can be more difficult than it sounds. This is because 'good' feedback isn't necessarily just about giving positive news or telling employees the areas in which they shine. For many companies, it's also about ensuring they are engaging in behavior that helps the organization achieve its goals. This can make the delivery of good feedback more complicated than just praising staff for their performance or commitment.
So how do you give good feedback that achieves organizational objectives as well as celebrating the accomplishments of individuals?
Where most good feedback falls down is that managers are not specific enough about the areas or behaviors that are being praised. This makes it extremely difficult for employees to replicate or expand on the progress they've made to further their expertise. This can mean professionals can stagnate or actually deteriorate because they're not exactly sure what they've done that the company is so pleased with.
SMART goals can help to focus feedback sessions and provide a good framework for managing the expectations and performance of employees.
Having performance management software in place can be an extremely valuable resource for giving good feedback. In most scenarios, you want the feedback to be as objective as possible. This means there can be no accusations of favoritism between managers and their team, because there is a set of criteria that all employees are measured against.
It will also clearly show professionals how they have achieved good performance, or the areas in which there could be further improvement. This makes it much easier for them to build on their experience and work towards their goals.
Make it regular
Companies are gradually moving away from the idea of annual appraisals and toward monthly or quarterly meetings to review employee and team progress. This has many benefits for both the wider organization and the individual, but most importantly it allows errors or oversights to be flagged earlier. Doing so allows adjustments to be made to employee goals to account for evolving insights or the changing needs of the company.
One-to-one meetings can help managers track the overall progress of teams as well as how individuals are achieving their goals and address any concerns. This makes for a much more cohesive team, as well as one where complete transparency is prioritized.
Feedback meetings should never be events done on the fly. It's important that management teams are given the opportunity to review any performance metrics and identify where employees are excelling. It's also important that managers prepare for delivering negative feedback and identifying where an individual may need further support to reach their potential. It's essential that any feedback is based on the individual's performance, rather than broad generalizations of how the team is doing. This gives employees the opportunity to take meaningful action to address any feedback they receive.
Preparing beforehand also allows managers to think about how they will word any critique that needs to be shared. Unless you have well-trained and experienced managers, it can be too easy to say something in the heat of the moment. This can cause distress to the employee and could even result in HR action if employees feel they have been wrongly treated.