Writing Employee Feedback? Here are 4 ways to Make Them Effective

Employee Feedback

Performance Management

Collaboration is the new keyword. Your people look up to you for a feedback. Won’t you love to tell them something that stays with the person and inspires him to do great things at work?

Let’s be candid. Employee feedback such as, “Keep up the good work” / “You could have done better” / “You really need to improve”, inspire no one. And before you know it, everyone is back at what they were doing the year before. No improvements!

What if we could change it? Giving someone feedback isn’t rocket science. With a little bit of preparation, and a few ideas we discuss here, you will be able to give feedback that people take to their hearts, and thank you many times over for it.

KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid.

The idea of KISS is trending. This is the way people now take in new information. The art of communicating has changed from hand-written letters, to emails, to tweets, but your appraisal feedback stands there – weathering the Sands of Time. The good news: You don’t need to junk it.

But how do you simplify your feedback? Hint: Use Ratings effectively.

Tell the other person, how you define, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Let’s say, for the next year, discuss with the person, what you would like him to achieve. Push him to dream something, that he feels can be done in an year. Make it the goal. Define how you will measure it and ask them to track it at the end of every month.

Defining goals is the easiest for salespeople – the Quota. But don’t be afraid if your goals don’t have numbers, even if everyone else is ranting about it. You are trying to get started. You can get SMARTer with time. No need to worry about it.

At the end of the year, sit down and see how much of it was achieved. Track it against every month, define a rating scale, and you have a simple way to tell a person at any given time. How they did in the first quarter, the one after that, as well as the current one. As with any thing agile, this improves as you go along.

Speak the cold, hard truth

Kevin O’ Leary, at Shark Tank, sure earns some fret on the Twitterati, for being so cold at entrepreneurs who appear on the show. But he is doing them a big favor. He is giving them a feedback. A feedback that’s genuine and that’s helpful.

However, you don’t have to tell your people to be blind after the money. You’re not Mr. Wonderful. Kevin speaks to an entrepreneur, whose job is to make money. Your team is up for a different job.

But what you CAN do, is copy Kevin’s experience with data about your people. Learn about the projects they are working on, the team they are on, the trainings that they took and even the distance they have to travel to get to the office every morning. Those are the hard realities your people face every day. The same things that help them, or stop them, from performing.

Ignorance is not a bliss, here. It pays to have this information available to you, for you to help them in a pointed and an accurate manner. Your people will respect you for this.

Get them to speak first

Silence is golden. When they ask you to give them a feedback, Let the horse speak for himself. Understanding how your people feel about themselves, will give you pointers on what you should say in your feedback.

During more formal appraisals, ask them to do a self-appraisal first and keep it handy. Having an employee’s self appraisal in your hand, while writing his review, is actually like having them singing their song of praise, while you, like the Mozart you are, pick out where they went right and where wrong.

See where the trail goes

For your people to do a good job, it is important that they are chasing the right goals. They are plucking the low-hanging fruits and not a meat in the sky.

Ask the person on your team, what is it that he was trying to achieve in the quarter or the year, and does he think that he was successful. Ask him if he created this goal himself, or was inspired by someone else. Whom does the person credit his success to?

During formal appraisals, keep the Goal Sheet handy. The feedback from others can be collected in what we call as employee journals, where his peers, seniors and friends leave notes. These notes can prove invaluable to his manager during the quarter or annual reviews.

The 4 tricks above can save you the day, when your next employee or peer asks you for a feedback. Be it a water-cooler moment or the annual appraisal, you will never run out of a feedback.

Did you rack your brain with something new, when you wrote the last feedback?

TAGS: Appraisal, Employee Evaluation, Employee Feedback, Employee Review, Hr blog, Performance appraisal, Performance appraisal techniques, Performance Management

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