Seven characteristics of good performance feedback
March 8, 2011 1 Comment
1) In private if your comments can be embarrassing, but don’t forget that sincere praise in front of others is usually very welcome.
2) While “the sandwich approach” of a positive, a negative and then a positive, is sometimes seen as manipulative, it can be effective providing we are sincere and our intent is to help. We have often been told we should start any feedback with a positive comment about some aspect of the employee’s work. Similarly, we should always close on a positive note, such as our confidence in the employee or in her/his potential. Feedback that is delivered in specific terms and in a sincere manner is usually accepted well. However, many people prefer an “open sandwich” approach, where you move directly to tell the employee what you would like to see changed or improved, and close with a positive statement of their worth and your high expectations of them.
3) The feedback has to be relevant (job related). It also must be something over which the employee has control. For example, complaining about the way a letter looks when the employee only has an outdated printer, or asking for a sophisticated looking production when the producer is working with one camera, a tired looking set, and no budget, only adds to the employee’s stress and frustration.
4) Avoid general statements. “You seem so unmotivated,” is not nearly as helpful as, “You rarely smile, and you display no enthusiasm for the tasks you do. Instead I hear a lot of sighs and complaints, such as…” (and you have specific complaints you have documented)
5) Don’t rely on hearsay, rumor, or second-hand reports. Base your comments on documentation, facts, and your own observation.
6) Make your comments personal to that employee. Either complements or criticisms that are directed generally toward the unit are meaningless to an employee. “We just don’t seem able to get out error-free invoices,” is not as productive as, “Three of the last invoices you sent out had errors in them.”
7) Judgments are unfair and not very helpful. Describe the behavior that is unsatisfactory, rather than judge a person because of it.