New managers: don’t give your employees feedback until you read this.

New managers: don’t give your employees feedback until you read this.

I remember as a new manager the first time I gave employee feedback over something they did wrong.  I was nervous and uncomfortable. My preference was to say it quickly and be done.

During our meeting, I proceeded to read a laundry list of things they were doing wrong. I could tell the person was upset, so I tried to talk faster as it made me very uncomfortable. When I finished, I asked them to sign the document stating we had the conversation. We both signed and got up and went about our day.  Or so I thought.

I felt a sense of relief having the conversation over and following through on what my supervisor asked me to do.  What I did not have a clue about was how the other person felt during the conversation. Nor did I ask for any explanation. My employee was upset and shared how the meeting went with pretty much every other employee they came in contact with that day. 

Today, as I share this with you, I see that my focus back then was on getting through this new experience. Not what it should have been, my employee, and how I can support them to improve. Over my years of being in human resources and in managing others, I have had great success in meeting with employees over a variety of topics.  I’m sharing the steps below I used to help me become more effective.

5 steps to prepare for giving employee feedback:

  1. Purpose. What is the reason you need or want to provide employee feedback?
    • An example of a common employee discussion is attendance.  If you are frustrated your employee continues to show up to work 30 minutes late, what is your goal? While you may be frustrated and want to fire them, isn’t your goal to get them to show up to work on time?

  2. Accurate information.  Take the time to focus on facts, not your emotions.
    • The fact is your employee has been late to work three out of their five scheduled shifts this week.

  3. Organize your thoughts. What is it you would like to say or ask the employee during the meeting?
    • You can share the dates and times they were late but also pause and ask why they were not able to make it work on time.

  4. Make it timely.  The sooner you can address the situation, the greater the opportunity it won’t happen again or can be resolved.
    • It can frustrate other coworkers and lets the employee feel it’s acceptable if no one ever addresses it with them.

  5. Where to meet.  Choose a location that is private but also comfortable for the employee.
    • In most workplaces, it is hard to meet with employees without others knowing about it.  Be discreet and, if possible, select a location that allows you the ability not to be interrupted.

3 Steps during the feedback meeting:

  1. Remember your why. It is not a mission to only deliver information.

    • Your goal is to understand why the employee is not meeting expectations.  In this example, why were they late to work?

  2. Effective dialogue.  It is not a one-sided conversation where you, as the manager, only tell them what they did wrong.

    • Ask your questions, share your facts, and allow the employee to participate in addressing the issue and creating a plan for improvement. They may have valid reasons.

  3. Close with expectations. Capture what was discussed on paper to help support the employee in improving.

    • You, as the manager and the employee, should be able to walk away with the same understanding. For the employee who was late, they should know future consequences or if they had valid reasons, adjustments made on how to prevent it from happening again.

Managing others is thinking beyond yourself and the needs of others. Unless you want to work a ridiculous amount hours a week, you need your employees to meet expectations and goals to make a positive impact on your organization.

You start as an individual contributor where you receive unsolicited feedback, direction, and support from others.  As a manager, your role has shifted within the organization. You are now responsible for others too. Being able to deliver feedback to employees effectively is a crucial skill to learn. It can curb workplace drama and create a more engaged team.

My action for you:

If you are a Business or HR Leader, who has a new manager under you, who has not given feedback to an employee before, share these tips and reminders. If you are a new manager, taking the time to prepare and deliver the feedback in an effective way will increase the chances the issue will be resolved.

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