New to supervision or maybe just frustrated with a supervisory issue that continues to come up again and again? It can feel uncomfortable to provide feedback to employees or to address an issue that you feel you've already pointed out in the past. Consider the strategies below when presenting performance feedback or managing potentially difficult conversations with an employee.
Tips and Strategies: Employee Feedback
It probably feels unsettling to an employee to receive 6 months worth of negative feedback when they sit down to discuss their mid-year review with a supervisor. Develop a regular meeting schedule with your employees in order to have built-in opportunities to provide feedback, both constructive and positive. Regular interactions reduce the chances of what can feel like a surprise "attack" to an employee. Regular meetings also help employees develop trust in your supervisory feedback and style. When addressing concerns, point them out consistently, give direction or guidance, re-iterate expectations, and continue addressing progress in upcoming one-on-one meetings.
Respect your employee's privacy by scheduling a designated time, in a private area, to discuss concerns about performance. This may be difficult in safety-sensitive situations. However, after safety or critical factors have been managed, spend time privately debriefing what went well and what needed improvement in the situation. In situations that do not require immediate feedback, use scheduled one-on-one meetings to provide on-going feedback about performance successes and concerns.
When meeting with an employee to provide feedback, make sure other distractions are managed well. Ensure your phone is silenced, make eye contact with your employee, and remain focused on the employee and your concerns. Reducing meeting interruptions gives your employee an opportunity to get comfortable with the discussion and gives you time to provide all necessary feedback.
Create a collaborative discussion that clarifies your concerns and also seeks insight from your employee. Give your employee an opportunity to explain their perspective as this may shed light on lapses in skill or knowledge or procedural deficits. Focus your discussion on strategies and solutions if your intention is to encourage positive change(s) in performance.
Make sure you are using direct yet respectful language to make your message clear. Explain your expectations regarding the situation on which you are providing feedback. If there are guiding principles for your work team and/or behavioral expectations for your department, review these with the employee and make clear that these are your expectations from a supervisory perspective.
If you're worried about your employee, point out that counseling services are available to them, free-of-charge, through the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program — 1-800-821-8154. If you, as supervisor or manager, are interested in support regarding providing feedback or addressing a specific situation-of-concern, CSEAP is also available to provide supervisor and manager consultation. Always contact your Human Resources Business Partner or HR representative to clarify policy, procedure, and protocol regarding your concern(s).