Do You Know When or When Not to Give Employee Feedback?

Posted by Julie • January 12, 2017 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 3 min read

If you were to take a quick look at all of the leadership and workforce articles you’ve read in 2016, there’s a good chance a large portion of them focus on how to give employee feedback. The general consensus is that employees can’t get enough, and you should be building more of that feedback into your performance management program. While it’s true you should be offering more guidance and direction to your employees, you do need to be aware that there’s still a right and wrong time to be doing so.
Do you know when your employees need the feedback?


Why Does It Matter?

Employees want feedback and you’re giving it to them…there’s not much else for them to complain about, right? Wrong. Workers are looking for your direction, but that doesn’t mean you can haphazardly share input on every project they’ve been assigned. Yes, 92% of employees readily agree that appropriately delivered, negative feedback is effective at improving performance, but on the day-to-day 67% of employees were more engaged when their manager focused on their strengths, compared to the  31% engagement rate of employees whose manager focused on their weaknesses.


There has to be balance when delivering feedback to your workforce; your people need your feedback, but not at the sacrifice of their feelings.

The Right Where

Knowing where to deliver feedback might be the most important part of this entire process. Part of selecting the right place, includes you understanding what it is that makes your employees tick. Another part, is understanding that adults don’t want to be scolded in front of their peers.


Read more about how effective performance management differs for extroverts and introverts.


To play it safe, make your office a place where employees feel comfortable. Some days, your office will bring bad news, but don’t let every feedback meeting be filled with negative feedback or you’ll end up with a team who fears the, “Can I see you in my office?” subject line.


The Right When

The safest time to provide feedback is when the employee is expecting it. Often, this is synonymous with the performance review: a meeting specifically established to discuss the development, and struggles, of the employee. However, real-time feedback can’t wait for quarterly (or annual) meetings – especially when the feedback is addressing an immediate problem. The answer to this is to build a culture of feedback and work to adapt that culture to the different personalities within your organization.

While building new culture seems impossible, the truth is that it’s more about forming habits so your employees gain comfort and confidence, rather than building a culture itself. Simply establishing a process for delivering feedback can be enough to eliminate the feeling of surprise. For instance, give employees a chance to formulate their thoughts by sending an email explaining the need for a quick feedback meeting, previously to actually hosting the meeting. This way, they can prepare for what is coming. Who knows, they might even surprise you and use that time in between the email and your actual meeting to formulate a solution to the problem.

Read more on building a performance management process unique to your organization.


Another great way to build a feedback-centric culture is with monthly one-on-ones. Not only will your people begin to expect that time spent with you (and count on it as much as you do!), but these monthly meetings can also make sure you are never blindsided by challenges your department may be facing.
Building processes for performance management isn’t easy, but it’s important for the health of your organization. Do you have a golden rule for how, and when, to deliver feedback? Share it with us on Twitter @Trakstar_hr!


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