How to: Give staff feedback

Everyone in the workplace can sometimes be thrown off course – whether that is from work overload, different priorities, the individual not understanding what they should be doing, or even personal issues.

Good management can help overcome most of these issues and will enable the employee to perform better.

Through clear, timely, and honest feedback you can keep your focus and reach your agreed objectives. Feedback is essential to ensure that your employees are delivering what the business needs to prosper.


Benchmark performance excellence

There are at least five possible reasons why a person is under-performing. These are:

  • They don’t know what they are supposed to do.
  • They don’t know they are not doing it.
  • They can’t do it.
  • They won’t do it.
  • They don’t have the time to do it properly.

If you want results, ensure you clarify what you expect and give staff the resources and support to achieve it.


Communicate business objectives

Staff engagement depends on their buy-in to the company vision, values and objectives.

Your people need to know what they are working towards and how it fits into the business direction. They should also understand how other departments contribute.


Recognise achievement

Being valued and recognised are main motivators. People frequently complain that no one thanks them for a job well done, but are quick to criticise when things go wrong.

It takes three positive statements to counteract a negative. Give regular feedback to all and you will balance the occasional criticism or reprimand.


Stop, start, continue

When assessing team performance, differentiate between observation and conclusions. Use language based on behavioural observation.

For example, if you are not happy with the way a consultant dealt with a customer, say “You raised your voice on the phone” not “you lost your temper with the customer”. Maybe the customer had hearing difficulties.

You will be clear in your own mind what attitudes, skills and knowledge are required to produce consistently excellent performance in your team.

One effective way of preparing for a performance review is to ask three questions about a team or individual:

  • What three things are they doing now that I would like them to stop doing?
  • What three things are they not doing that I would like them to start doing?
  • What three things are they doing well that I would like them to continue doing?

Once you have identified these drivers or barriers, you can begin to formulate a strategy to help them raise the bar.


Look at your own management skills

All too often, the replies to the stop, start and continue questions will point a finger at your own management ability.

It is useful to seek feedback from your own line manager if you have one, asking them to identify what behaviours they would like to see you stop, start and continue. They may, in turn, ask you to give them some honest feedback. This could be the start of a 360-degree feedback culture in your business.

Give feedback consistently and equally

Managers tend to focus on under-performers. These problem children can divert your attention from the talented staff who keep your business running.

You may be managing one or more mavericks or high performers – neglect them at your peril. You need a strategy to keep them engaged too.


Take what you give

When receiving feedback there are some tips to make sure the process goes smoothly:

  • Listen openly. It is an opportunity to learn about you.
  • Be sure you understand precisely what is being said. Repeat it back and ask questions.
  • If you are not sure of its validity, check it out with other people.
  • Thank the person. It may have been difficult for them to approach the subject.
  • Don’t conduct a feedback post-mortem. Everyone makes mistakes, so onwards and upwards.
  • Encourage people and ask them for the feedback that you need.
  • Remember, there is no failure, only feedback.


Useful links


Business performance consultant Hoda LaceyHoda Lacey is a business performance consultant who works in partnership with businesses to help improve management performance, staff engagement and manage talent. 

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