Offering Employee Feedback

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Providing employees with feedback on their work performance is an important aspect of any supervisor’s role. For a constructive review, keep these factors in mind the next time you have to tell someone that he or she has done something wrong. 

  • Direct your feedback at action, not the person. Show the person that you are willing to listen to his or her feelings and concerns. Stress your willingness to work out the problem together and offer guidance to help the person correct the problem. 
  • Put the issue in context. Perhaps the employee doesn’t realize that a certain task is a priority or perhaps a specific assignment isn’t as important as other items, but still must be performed well. Make sure the worker understands the relative importance of each task. To do that, make your feedback specific—not “You always miss deadlines,” but “You missed the March 15 deadline for your report and that caused several other team members to get behind in their work.” 
  • Don’t give feedback just to clear the air or get something off your chest. Make sure the other person understands the reason for your feedback, then don’t belabor the point. 
  • If you are putting your feedback in writing, cool off before writing the critical letter or memo. Be sure to handle the matter in a confidential manner, informing only the individual involved and those others who may have a legitimate need to know. 
  • Make sure you have been understood. Do this by asking the employee for a reaction to what has been discussed. If you discover you’ve been wrong about something, admit it immediately. Then solve the problem while the employee is there to see it. 
  • In closing your feedback session, focus on the future and reaffirm your support and confidence in the person. Dwelling on the past may make the employee feel discouraged and defensive. Discuss past performance enough to describe and illustrate problems, then move on. Put most of your energy into correcting problems and improving future performance.