Giving feedback to improve performance

This weeks article comes from the best practice forum in the  July 2007 Perform. It provides an insight in to the problems we know to be present in the employee/manager dynamic, and how to resolve said problems.  If you enjoy reading these articles why not sign up to our newsletter at

One of the fundamental components of the management task is giving feedback on performance. The outcome should be that your people adapt their performance more in line with the organisation’s needs.

© Passigatti | Dreamstime.comThe fashion today, the “you’re fired” feedback from Sir Alan Sugar, is simply not effective. That belongs in The Office not your office.

There are some managers who tread so softly that they do not give effective feedback at all, good or bad.

If the manager is to modify the person’s behaviour the feedback has to be effective, relate to the person receiving it and contain actionable commentary. It is always a good idea to talk about what was good to start with, but always ensure the negative feedback is heard too.

The first point is that we only hire people for some hours a day. We do not “buy” them, we rent their behaviour in the work context. We have no rights over them as a person but we do have the right to expect their behaviour to comply with the organisation’s needs, for them to support the organisation in pursuit of its objectives. Even more than that the person should support their manager, because they are the connecting link to the organisation. There are a few exceptions. For example the police take an oath to uphold the law and the armed forces an oath of allegiance to the monarch (in the UK). The rest of us need to support our boss.

What we don’t do is call the person “useless” or worse. We only rent their behaviour and every person is a unique and valuable human in their own right.

The feedback must discuss the behaviour that was sub-standard, always from the assumed base that the person behaved with good intent. If we think the person was “just messing about” we will communicate that in our tone and manner.

Explore the situation, discuss why the behaviour was inappropriate. Assume that more information or more training will fix the situation.

Be very clear what behaviour is needed under what conditions. Build the decision making model in the person’s head so they understand the circumstances and the appropriate behaviours.

Offer your personal support. Say that if the person is unsure to come and ask you for help making the decision. Not to make the decision yourself note, but to help the person make the decision himself.

It is always best to define a numerate measure where you can.

Provide regular reviews to make sure the person’s understanding is growing. Offer to review in one month, then three months so you meet a couple of times before the next formal performance review. © Jsnover |

Don’t forget the open door policy. The manager’s job is managing people not shuffling paper.

Take every opportunity to communicate your expectations.

Sometimes you will find that a person will persistently fail to improve their performance. If you have tried repeatedly to improve that performance without success then other actions are needed.

A manager cannot continue to accept sub-standard performance but must change the person’s role to one more suitable to their ability.

There are too many instances of people not being aware of how they can improve or what they have done badly.
Bad management is the cause – poor performance is the result!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s