10 Tips for How to Give Feedback to Employees
Posted on December 21, 2018 by Danny Leffel
Giving feedback to employees can be just as anxiety-inducing as receiving it. Occasionally, human resources will handle the critical or negative feedback, but that’s usually after the employee did not initially respond to a manager talking with them. Frequently, managers are the first ones to give feedback. Although positive feedback is easier to deliver than the negative kind, it can still be hard to figure out the best way to do so. If you need some help, follow the tips below for how to give feedback to employees.
1. Identify the Purpose
Before you approach your employee, determine the reason you’re offering feedback — especially if it’s criticism — and what you hope to gain from it. Are you trying to simply coach your employee into doing something a different way or are you evaluating their performance before a review? It’s much too easy for coaching to be confused with evaluation, so whatever the reason is, make it clear to your employee. Resentment and confusion can occur if the employee isn’t clued in to the intention behind your feedback.
2. Don’t Wait for a Formal Review
You should never tell an employee something in their performance review that they haven’t heard before. The whole point of a formal review is to evaluate how the employee has grown throughout the designated time period, not to offer fresh criticism. You’ll just be hurting yourself and your business by waiting to address any issues instead of putting a stop to them immediately. If you wait, you also run the risk of forgetting about the problems by the time the review takes place. It’s just easier to handle them as they occur.
3. Don’t Give Feedback in Public
Many people don’t like being the center of attention, and that’s especially true when their manager is correcting them. You’ll instantly lose the trust of your employees if you embarrass them in front of the staff. Instead, ask them if you can go for a walk or sit in a private section of the restaurant with them. Keep the meeting informal and away from their coworkers.
4. Understand That Mistakes Happen
If your employee made a mistake, they are probably aware of it. Instead of berating them for it, try to understand the origin of it. Does your employee need more training? Regardless of the reason, give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, most employees don’t intentionally drop serving trays or forget to return a piece of merchandise to a shelf. They’re probably upset with themselves for making a mistake, and even more so that you saw it. Show them some compassion for being human.
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5. Be Specific
You can’t give an employee vague feedback and expect their performance to change in the future. Instead of saying, “Good work today,” try saying, “Good job calming down that frustrated customer, and thanks for solving his problem.” By being specific, you’re encouraging the kind of behavior you’d like to see more often. After you provide feedback, your employees should know exactly what’s expected of them. Don’t create more questions without providing answers.
6. Focus on the Action
Focus on your employee’s actions, not their motivations. If you ask someone why they did something, it’s human nature to get defensive. Avoid that by asking what happened, how it happened, and how you can better help them in the future. Keep it strictly professional, and avoid calling out an employee’s personality traits.
7. Have a Two-Way Conversation
Don’t dominate the conversation, because that will sound like a lecture, and no one wants to feel like they’re a child being reprimanded. Allow your employee to contribute, ask them questions, and listen to what they tell you. You may be able to learn something about how they handled a situation that will help you guide future employees. Show that you respect them and care about what they have to say.
8. Be Supportive and End Positively
Deliver a feedback sandwich by starting off the conversation with a compliment about the employee’s work, bringing up the constructive criticism, and then ending with another compliment. Remember that very few people like to receive criticism, so the feedback sandwich model will help soften the blow. Be supportive and remain positive throughout your talk. If applicable, provide resources, training, or ideas to help them solve an issue. You know more about the company than they do; give them some help to get back on track.
9. Follow Up Later
Let them know that they can come to you with any questions if they’re confused about what you said. Check back in with your employee after some time has passed to see if your feedback worked. If it didn’t, you have another opportunity to correct the problem. If it did, you now know what will work in the future if another employee has the same issue. If your feedback was criticism about how they handled something, pay attention to when your employee does it correctly, and praise them for it.
10. Give Feedback Frequently
You’ll have a productive and more confident workforce when you’re able to communicate openly with them, so make sure you’re not only talking to your employees when they’ve done something wrong. That will just make them dread whenever you walk over. Be intentional about giving them positive feedback, and do it frequently. If you find yourself traveling often between locations, use an online app like Crew to stay connected while you’re away from the team. Messages in the Crew App get sent directly to employees’ smartphones, so team communication has never been easier.
Don’t stress out when you need to offer feedback to an employee. If done correctly, it’s one of the best ways for a company to build trust and produce a reliable workforce. By following these steps, you’ll be able to communicate clearly and stop most small issues before they become full-blown problems.