By Shi Tianyun
Performance review – two words that invoke dread in most including managers. If your job requires you to evaluate someone else’s work, you are probably relieved that the midyear review is over. Giving constructive feedback isn’t the easiest or fun thing to do but feedback is one of the main tools that will help you develop your staff.
If you had a hard time with the midyear evaluations or are a new manager, here are some tips on how to give constructive feedback effectively so you will be prepared when the end of the year rolls round.
Look at the whole evaluation period
It’s human nature to be near-sighted – your executive’s latest failure to hit her targets would probably outshadow her stellar performance earlier in the year on hindsight. While it is necessary to raise the areas she can improve on, it is equally vital to highlight her past good work as the evaluation extends to the entire period.
Keep the atmosphere light
Both of you aren’t looking forward to it, having your feedback discussion in a daunting conference room won’t help the situation. If a nearby coffee shop is quiet and conducive for private conversations, have your meeting there. Your attempt to put your staff at ease will be appreciated, and you won’t be so nervous about delivering the review too!
One main point of having such a session is to point out areas that can be improved on. Some managers will find that they have little to say if their staff is generally a good performer, so the meeting ends quickly on a superficial level. But another main reason why feedbacks are done is to acknowledge where good work has been done. By providing positive feedback that’s deserved, not only does this reinforce your staff’s good work, she would also know that you have noticed her efforts.
Don’t wimp out
On the other hand, don’t sugarcoat your critical feedback. Some have the tendency to rush through and blabber on after pointing out a criticism to soften the blow. Don’t. As uncomfortable as it is, stop and let the message sink in so that she knows this is an issue. And don’t add the criticisms as an afterthought at the end of the meeting; she might be relieved that the ordeal is over and not pay attention to what you have to say.
Being vague and general won’t get you anywhere. Instead of saying “You work too slowly”, try “You submitted ABC report late in August”. The same goes for praise, if your staff is meticulous, tell her where and how she is detailed, be it in her analysis report or minutes taking. Of course when it comes to suggestions on how to make improvements, it also pays to be as detailed as possible.
Always explain the consequences
No one likes to deliver bad news but it is important to highlight the potential consequences if the issues are not solved. So if your staff’s tardiness may hinder her prospects for a promotion, you have to lay it all out as it is. Many a time, the manager concentrates on what is wrong but rarely touches on what will happen if things continue to go wrong and in the end the staff is caught by surprise if he is not promoted or worse.
Don’t dominate the conversation
This is a two-way discussion. Don’t just rattle on without letting your staff have any input. When accessing a particular situation, try asking “What would you do over?”. This will give her the chance to be more comfortable in identifying her own weaknesses and make for a more fruitful discussion.
You can break down your resistance to giving feedback – to be more comfortable try providing regular feedback like once every month, instead of waiting until you have to. Plus, there are many pros to regular feedback:
• Your team knows how serious a problem it is when it’s highlighted straightaway. On the flip side, they also know that they did a job well when you give them a fresh pat on the back.
• If you put off speaking with her about a problem until it snowballs, you are likely to come across as frustrated when you do give that feedback and your staff may take it as personal attack.
• Basically, nothing at the midyear and end year review should be a shock but without regular feedback, your staff might not be aware of the issues and be very surprised during appraisal time.
If you are a manager, what problems do you face during feedback sessions? Share with us in the comment box!
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