By Key Business Advisors
Human Resources

Giving feedback is the most difficult part of a manager’s job with 44% of respondent stated that they were stressed when having to deliver feedback. Managers are stuck between caring for the employee (and trying not to hurt their feelings) and challenging the employee to improve performance. Telling someone they need to improve or that they are not pulling their weight makes us uncomfortable and we would rather avoid confrontation.

But what happens when employees are not given feedback? How can people improve if they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’? How will the other team members feel about the inaction of their manager when a colleague is underperforming?

Studies continuously show that managers who regularly give feedback have more productive employees. It increases productivity, efficiency, motivation, decreases turnover, absenteeism and ultimately impacts the culture and bottom line of the business.

Although the fear of giving feedback is normal and happens to most of us, knowing how to give feedback can help. It’s important to do it well to avoid confusing the employee. Messages intent can be misinterpreted (‘he’s telling me I did a good job, but I’m sure he meant I could have done better’) and this can lead to resentment, fear or feelings of being treated unfairly.

  • The sandwich feedback (good feedback, bad feedback, good feedback) has often been described as the best method, but recent research in this area is challenging this view. People are five times more susceptible to negative feedback and a ratio of 5 to 1 seems to be ideal to keep employees performing. So, for every instance of negative feedback, employees need 5 instances of positive feedback to keep them motivated. This is not to say that managers should not give negative feedback as it is clearly crucial for performance, but managers who are aware of that ratio should use it to maximise employee’s motivation.
  • Knowing your employees and how they prefer receiving feedback can go a long way. Asking your employee if they prefer a quick chat or an email followed by a meeting to discuss issues and having a DISC profile done can be very useful before having a difficult conversation. Understanding the person’s personality type goes a long way when providing constructive feedback.
  • It is best to give feedback within 24 hours. Waiting longer makes the conversation inefficient as details will be forgotten and the momentum is lost.
  • Avoid personal and blanket statements when delivering feedback such as ‘you always do… you never follow…’ as people take it personally and are in ‘defence mode’. The conversation needs to be constructive and a 2-way street, so if employees feel threatened, they will argue and defend themselves and the outcome will be unproductive.

If you need help to train your managers on delivering feedback, engage us, we can help you do your performance review.


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