How to Improve Your Employee Feedback System

BY Kathy Crosett
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Giving employees negative feedback on their performance is a task most managers would rather avoid. They’ve learned through experience or rumor that asking specific individuals to work harder or to stop making so many mistakes can backfire. Employees might burst into tears. They could also respond by turning passive aggressive.

Before you decide on the kind of less-​than-​stellar feedback you need to relay, think about the end result you have in mind. As a post on Lattice​.com recently noted, you want employees to specifically change something. You may want them to produce more widgets per hour. Or, you may want them to post more cost transactions to the right expense categories in the accounting system.

Take that thought process one step further and come up with concrete goals you can set for your team members. If you want their work output to change, be specific. For example, should they post ten more cost entries to the accounting system per hour? Or twenty more? If you can be specific, you can help your team members measure their progress and achieve their goals.

As the experts at Lattice​.com note, the ‘how’ of your feedback delivery can be as important as the ‘why.’ When you chat with employees, they’ll pay attention to your verbal and nonverbal cues. If you start talking to someone about how to improve their performance in an open office environment, everyone else will hear the conversation. Your employee isn’t going to appreciate that tactic. It should go without saying that no manager should scowl, yell or otherwise berate an employee while giving feedback.

To get your message across during a one-​on-​one feedback meeting, assure employees that you’ve noticed the good work they’re doing. Starting the conversation on a positive note will help employees relax and listen.

Then, delve into the details where improvement could and should be made. Connect the outcome of these improvements to the future of the company and to the team member’s career path. When they see they have a vested interest in making the changes you’re recommending, they’ll be more likely to take action.

Finally, don’t be in a rush to end the conversation. Ask your team members to respond to your feedback. This show of support underscores the collaborative process of setting goals and discussing efforts to achieve them.