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Seven tips for delivering performance feedback


Performance appraisal is often dreaded by managers, who view it as an imposition on a par to having teeth pulled. Having to impart negative feedback is a particular bugbear, particularly as it's something which can easily get brushed aside and left to build until the formal meeting takes place. This month, the USA-based Zigon Performance Group offers some help with giving honest feedback to employees on their website.

Top tips from the Zigon Group are as follows:

  • Create the right setting - all performance feedback should be conducted in a private, one-on-one setting, behind a closed door. Feedback should be completely private - easy to arrange, but also easy to forget how important is is to establish the right conditions for the interview to creating an atmosphere of trust. The employee needs to know that you value the interview as important, and that means no interruptions.

  • Utilise self-feedback. Getting the employee to comment on their own behaviour is extremely helpful, as they are likely to be harder on themselves than you will on them. Supervisors can then give their own opinions on the issues raised.

  • Address performance problems honestly and directly. If left to moulder, they only get worse, and should be dealt with there and then when the problem occurs. Behaviour should also be witnessed first hand by the supervisor, rather than relying on word-of-mouth from other employees.

  • Communicate expectations clearly. Use SMART objectives to keep performance expectations clear, giving as much information as possible so that employees know what is expected of them.

  • Include the positive. Many supervisors are so concerned about correcting their employees' mistakes they tend to overlook their positive achievements altogether. Be sure to point out what the employee is doing right. Keep the list of performance improvements short, focussing on a few at a time rather than bombarding the employee with issues.

  • Make feedback frequent and informal. This is key to making the performance appraisal less of an ordeal for all involved. Regular feedback means that there will be less of a chance that difficult issues will be saved up, and regular feedback will help to reassure the employee that they are working along the right lines. A casual review session should take place at least quarterly.

  • Keep documentation. Notes should be kept on any problems discussed, and then put on file so they can be checked back in future if need be.


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