Not all of us can walk up to someone and tell them precisely what we think about them. It is awkward – and usually, there’s no payoff.
But when it comes to running a business, you can’t afford to be avoidant. If there’s something wrong with the way a team member is approaching their work, they need to know about it – and you need to resolve the problem. If you don’t, it could wind up hurting your company in the long-run, damaging profits and destroying growth potential.
If you’re a boss or the manager of a firm, you shouldn’t fear to provide feedback. It seems scary when you do it, but it can be a great boon to your team. What’s more, most employees actually want to know how well they’re doing. People don’t like sitting around, wondering about their performance, and whether they might be up for the chop. They want a sense of their achievements and whether their jobs are secure.
Some employees like the challenge of improving too. Everyone wants to get better at what they do over time. So providing consistent feedback is key to unlocking their latent drive.
How to provide feedback
The way that you provide feedback matters a lot. First, it should never be confrontational. The purpose of feedback isn’t to give members of staff a dressing down. It is to improve their performance at work. Some people react positively to aggressive criticism, but most people don’t. Employees want to feel empowered to improve, not to go away with the impression you think that they are a dolt.
Where possible, be constructive. Talk frankly about how your employees could improve. Try to avoid slipping into manager mode, telling them that they “must try harder.” Be more like a coach, helping them identify problems with their work and use that to put them on the right track.
Second, always stick to the facts. Use performance management software to collect robust data that you can use to back up what you say. Don’t just make random accusations or declarations that you can’t support with evidence. If you do, it’ll demoralize and may come back to bite you in the future.
Remember that your employees want feedback
While employees dread their performance evaluations, deep down, they want feedback. It is challenging to work for months on end, not really knowing whether you’re doing things right. You need regular reviews to ensure that you’re on the right course and fit for the job.
Employees, therefore, want you to give them as much information about their performance as possible. You don’t have to provide feedback at an annual review – that’s probably counterproductive. Ideally, you’d do it daily by giving colleagues helpful metrics. They could then use these insights to modify how they work and then track to see whether changes make a difference to performance.
If you’re a people-pleaser, a lot of this stuff will sound daunting. But it is always worth it in the end. Plus, it will enhance your relationship with your staff, improving trust and transparency.