Problem: You’ve reviewed the numbers from 2010, and one of your employees failed to meet the goals you outlined for the year. You’ve scheduled a meeting with the employee to review the person’s performance, and you want to make sure you approach the subject in a way that ensures success in 2011. Being too critical could backfire, but you need to avoid mixed messages too.
Solution: Follow these tips to ensure your feedback is constructive and effective:
- Be specific. Vague criticisms such as “You haven’t been giving us 100%” won’t be nearly as helpful as “You have difficulty settling back into work after lunch” or “You have been quick to dismiss clients’ concerns lately.” Plainly identifying problems tells your employee exactly what he or she must do to meet your expectations.
- Express concern and confidence. If you think it’s possible that an employee’s low performance stems from an external factor, sincerely express your concern. If it turns out to be a work issue, it might be something you can easily remedy. And even if you cannot remove the obstacle entirely, understanding the situation will allow you to respond more effectively. Similarly, make it clear that you have confidence in your employee’s talents and complete faith that the person can meet the goals you’ve set for this year. Displaying compassion and optimism will make your employee feel supported rather than attacked.
- Remain composed and professional. Employees often respond emotionally to negative feedback, so prepare for a strong reaction. An employee might respond angrily or defensively, shut down, or even cry. Regardless of the response, commit to keeping your own composure.
- Develop a plan for future success. Together, generate a list of steps that will allow the employee to meet current goals. Set deadlines and dates for follow-up meetings. That kind of planning will ensure that next year’s performance review is full of positive feedback.
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Delivered each month, Bud to Boss Take 5 offers you advice for resolving your most perplexing management problems. Even better: You need only 5 minutes to read each issue of the e-letter and find workable solutions that you can put to use immediately!