There are likely many definitions for the term âfeedbackâ â for the purpose of this article, we will define feedback as âuseful information that helps people decide whether their behaviour has met or achieved performance expectationsâ.
Telling someone that his or her hairstyle or clothing style is unacceptable is not relevant, unless it is in conflict with a specific performance expectation (such as meeting with an investor or a client, etc).
Before you decide to give feedback to someone, ask yourself the question: âWill this be useful information that will help that person decide whether or not his or her behaviour meets or achieves performance expectations?â
There are some key components to feedback that help differentiate whether the process will be effective or ineffective. Perhaps picture feedback, if you will, as a âpause in the actionâ â when the âaction resumesâ, effective feedback will help to move the action forward in an appropriate (and even faster) manner. On the other hand, if the feedback is ineffective, the action can be negatively affected to such a degree that it may âfall off the tracksâ and never move forward again.
In support of providing effective feedback, here are those key components:
1. timeliness â deliver the feedback as soon as appropriate â the fresher is better
2. balance â use positive statements, words and/or suggestions for improvement
3. specificity â deal only with behaviour seen and/or heard â give specific examples
4. objectivity â focus on the performance, not on the person or the personality
5. positive intent â position the feedback as intending to help, even if unpleasant
This last point â positive intent â can be captured within a written developmental plan aimed at strengthening, enhancing, or improving an employeeâs overall performance.
In this written plan, you can record the specific developmental actions and/or any formal training sessions that the employee needs to address as a means of moving his or her performance to the appropriate level i.e.: to meet the specific performance expectations that have been previously communicated to the employee and which are not being met to the satisfaction of the manager or the organization.
The keys here are to (1) reach aclear agreement with the employee on the actions that need to be taken and (2) demonstrate the positive impact that such development will have on the employeeâs overall performance level. Then, should the employee want to strengthen his or her performance, there is a written plan or âroad mapâ to be followed. Conversely, if the employee is not interested or committed to strengthening his or her performance, you have a written âagreementâ with that employee to which you can refer should further action or discipline be required.
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