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How to give graceful feedback to employees

Meghana Sanka
2nd Aug 2016
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Employees are the biggest asset to any company. Often however, a rift between seniors and juniors can have a deep impact on the company as well. Unhappy employees mean decreased productivity, fewer sales and a plunge in revenue. Hence, you need to choose your words carefully while giving feedback to them, however negative it might be.

employee feedback

Listed below are a few ways to give them feedback in a graceful manner:

Be firm but polite

Since you are the senior, be authoritative. But do not let authority get the better of you. When you give feedback to a junior, try not to demotivate them. An employee can give their best only when the work environment is conducive for effort. Be firm, but not blunt. Be polite. Keep a straight face and a low voice and get your point across without any airs.

Ensure two-way communication

Dig deeper and understand the employee’s point of view. It is important to listen to them. You need to hear the other side of the story and accept the employee’s feedback, if any, as well. This strengthens the bond between you and your team and also sets the ground for further honest discussions.

Be a friend rather than a boss

For a conducive work environment, it is important to maintain a hierarchy but not let it come between friendships. A boss should be someone who is approachable at any time, with whom one can raise doubts and always be honest with. If the employee can find a friend in the boss, they will be able to work more effectively and efficiently.

Give feedback differently for different individuals

Understand that every employee is unique. No two individuals react the same way. Hence, feedback given to two different people should suit their behaviour and response patterns. As a senior, you would know the temperament of each individual. Therefore, use it to your advantage while giving feedback to ensure better responses.

Don’t get personal

While feedback should be fair, it should not go overboard. The discussion should be strictly professional and not be targeted towards an employee personally. Personal comments can elicit extreme reactions from employees. They can make an impulsive decision to quit work and maybe even bad mouth the company. Hence, always choose your words wisely. Remember, what is once spoken can never be taken back.

Time it right

Ensure that feedback is always given on a timely basis. Try not to burden an employee going through a financial or personal crisis with additional feedback. The key is to find the perfect time to talk it out. Strike when the iron is hot. It is always a good idea to give continuous feedback on a timely basis. This way, the feedback will not get accumulated and burst out on a bad day.

Give examples

Try not to be vague. Avoid saying things like, “You did not meet your goals,” or “You are not an asset to our company”. Be specific; give the what, where, why and how to the employee. Tell them exactly when they were wrong and how they could improve the situation. Genuine and constructive feedback always ensures growth of an individual.

Relax

If a junior’s behaviour has upset you or the company, the first thing to do is to calm down. Count till 10, take deep breaths, have a glass of water and relax. Anger makes us resent and react in a manner we might regret later. Hence, wait for your anger to die down and address the issue at hand in a calm and sensible manner.

Focus on the positive

While feedback is a mix of both the positives and negatives of an employee’s performance, it would help to stress on the good rather than the bad. You could always use lines such as, “Your performance has been great on all these fronts, and we are really happy. These are a few areas we would like you to improve on…” Focusing on the positives makes employees feel good and reduces the impact of the negatives. The feedback becomes less blunt and registers well.

Follow up

Make sure to follow up with your juniors. Do not give a feedback session once a year and forget about it. The key to improvement is to follow up. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to breathe down the employee’s neck. But, ensure that you keep checking on them on a regular basis. Ask them how they are doing and find out if they are facing any issues on any front. Follow-ups help make bonds better.

Giving feedback is a delicate process that is dreaded equally by both bosses and employees. It is an uncomfortable, yet inevitable process. Hence, why not make the atmosphere light by giving feedback gracefully and with a smile!

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