To be successful at work, managers must individually address areas of improvement. That can be an uncomfortable conversation, no doubt. But, regular employee feedback -- especially for new hires -- is critical for workplace productivity, engagement, retention and overall performance.
In fact, a 2015 survey from Gallup reported that employees who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged at work and 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs. That’s where management plays the biggest role in employee engagement, through offering feedback that effectively nurtures employee growth.
While it’s important for managers to recognize employees’ strengths, it’s just as important to address any areas of work that need improvement.
Here are six tips for delivering employee feedback the right way:
1. Keep a wrap on certain feedback
No matter how wholesome you try to keep the office, there will always be toxic employees who love to dish out the dirt, so avoid giving employees negative feedback in front of coworkers.
In a 2015 survey released by CareerBuilder of the 2,532 hiring managers and 3,039 employees ages 18 and over, 44 percent of respondents claimed to witness colleagues tattling in the office, and another 30 percent admitted there were rumors spread about their coworkers.
Sounds childish, right?
People often do this because they are insecure, feel threatened or are even just bored, but new employees, especially, should not be exposed to criticism or pressure from their coworkers. They are still learning the basics of their role and need to stay focused on productivity, not protecting their reputation. So don’t embarrass them or give employees a reason to participate in workplace gossip.
When a more difficult conversation needs to happen, meet in your office or somewhere private, where other employees can’t eavesdrop.
On the contrary, recognizing employee success openly has quite the opposite effect. Publicly praising employees will help with workplace productivity, confidence, and encourage positive peer recognition.
2. Posture your feedback to be well received
You have been the new employee at some point in your career. Everyone has been. And, at times, it probably felt like you were back in high school trying to fit in and make friends.
Not surprisingly, the aforementioned CareerBuilder survey reported that 35 percent of employees have made a face behind someone’s back at work. Even some professionals are not above immature antics when something doesn’t click.
As a manager, you are responsible for being mindful of these types of clique behaviors and being as professional and approachable as possible. If you do not make a new hire feel welcome, your feedback is not going to be well received.
Pay careful attention to your body language. Eye rolling, crossing your arms, chomping on gum, and texting or answering emails when talking to employees is a very unwelcoming communication style.
These behaviors show the employee that you could care less about their performance and the future with the company.
Instead, let new employees know that you are there to talk whenever they need advice, to listen if they are having an issue, and offer direction if a project isn’t understood. Show them that you are approachable and want them to feel comfortable talking to you about any issues at work.
3. Pass the solutions, not judgments
It’s easy to jump to conclusions about why an employee didn’t finish a project on time or why they were ill prepared for an important meeting, but, especially for new employees, there may be a good explanation for why something wasn’t done correctly. There may be a gap in communication or understanding.
They are still learning the ropes, and when they make a mistake, they count on you to give sound advice so they can correct the error and prevent it in the future.
When it comes to giving employee feedback, be sure to listen to their explanation first and hear the facts, then show them support by giving them feedback on how to solve the problem.
4. Offer feedback with sugar and cream
Feedback meetings don’t have to be cold and lack human connection. Meeting somewhere less conventional will allow a new hire to open up and be more honest than if they were sitting alone at the end of a mile long conference table.
Discussing strengths and weaknesses over coffee is less intimidating and shows the employee that you actually care about their success at the company. It also sets the tone for a friendly work environment. The first wave of feedback an employee receives will be the most nerve wracking, so find a way to ease their worries and warm them up with some comfort and familiarity.
5. Don’t be too sensitive; use good sense
Many times managers are afraid of giving their employees negative feedback because they want to avoid hurting feelings -- especially with new hires.
Being sensitive to employees’ feelings is a good thing, but often managers avoid giving timely feedback because they don’t want to cause conflict. The truth is, the longer it’s put off, the stickier the issue will become -- until it's necessary to deliver very tough news.
Let employees know right away if they are making a mistake, so that they can correct it and continue to improve.
6. Give feedback that feeds productivity
It’s easy for employees to feel discouraged and disengaged if their manager is giving them feedback that could be taken as direct criticism.
You don't need to avoid negative or corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you suggest a solution to each problem they are facing. [click to tweet]
For example, the new employee hasn’t been contributing during client meetings. Avoid saying, ‘Your team feels as though you haven't been contributing any ideas when you meet with clients.' Instead, say something specific and task oriented, such as, ‘I know you have some great ideas, and going forward, I want to hear at least two ideas from you during client meetings.'
This type of solution-driven approach to feedback allows the employee to understand the specific issue and how to correct it.
How are you effectively delivering employee feedback?