Part Six: Feedback Formula

Here’s my formula for impactful and motivating feedback: Start by identifying something that the employee is doing right and provide positive acknowledgment. Then, move to the area where you want an employee to make a change or behave differently – their area of opportunity. Share what you are seeing and what you expect instead – be specific. Ask how they will deliver on your request, agree on a timeframe for the change and offer your support. Always end on a positive note, sharing your appreciation of their commitment to focus on their area of opportunity.

Let me give you an example. Once you are in a one-on-one meeting or Zoom with the employee, say something like, “Mike, as a Marketing Manager at our company, you are doing a great job on your social media postings. They are relevant and creative. I appreciate your contribution. I see an opportunity in your management of the company’s internal newsletter. You seem to struggle with deadlines, and I do not see the same creativity, which we both know is your strength. The newsletter is 25% of your job responsibilities, and our staff relies on it to stay current on company news. I need you to make it a priority. What can you do differently to make the newsletter as timely and engaging as your social media work?” Pause and allow the employee to think about your feedback and respond. If they are unsure, offer up, “How can I support you in this area of opportunity?” Together, you and the employee can discuss solutions. You need them to commit to making a change. It’s a good idea to finish the conversation by saying, “Mike, I appreciate how you received my feedback, and I look forward to helping you grow in your career.” 

Notice how I turned potential negative feedback into an opportunity. No one wants to screw up, but it happens. It may be a lack of clarity on expectations, or maybe the employee needs additional training. You can’t know until you have the conversation. The more specific you are in your feedback, the more valuable your discussion will be with the employee. Addressing employee challenges does not have to be uncomfortable. At the end of this feedback session, you both should feel good about the interaction. It is easy to be grateful if you receive feedback delivered in the right way – direct, given with compassion, and focused on an issue and not a person. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about giving your boss feedback – YIKES! Hint: It doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it sounds!


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Kim Martin