This is one of a series of short blogs in response to questions asked at the seminar on performance management run by TimelessTime at the Let’s Do Business show in Hastings.
Before giving feedback to anyone, you should understand why the feedback is needed. What is your ultimate goal? Unless the feedback has purpose it is best to say nothing. So, before having that all-important discussion with a poor performer, as a manager you must ask yourself the following questions: “what outcome do I want” and “what improvements do I expect to see”.
Research shows that feedback is best given immediately after the behaviour or incident. This applies to both positive and negative feedback. The immediacy gives impact to the message. By way of example consider giving feedback to a young child – if the feedback is not given when the behaviour to be commented on occurs, the moment passes and the link between feedback and behaviour is lost.
Focus on Behaviour
There are many models available, each providing a framework for giving feedback. And giving critical feedback should happen in informal meetings as well as formal meetings. The focus in this blog is on the informal. That said, the meeting should still have a structure.
The discussions should focus on behaviour, not personality. It’s what they did that is important, not who or what they are. Evidence should be offered and evaluation of why the behaviour is unacceptable should be given. This makes the feedback more meaningful.
Do it Right
The environment in which the feedback is given is also important. Bawling someone out in an open office is unprofessional and says more about the feedback giver than the transgressor! Find a quiet place to meet, listen and show that this is a valid meeting not just a ‘must go through the motions’ meeting. It is also important to understand the real reason for the problem. This means that the objectives agreed as improvement requirements address the real issue and not just the symptoms.