As a manager, one of the hardest things to do is to provide feedback to an employee. Especially, providing feedback that is difficult for the employee to hear.
Throughout my career I have attending leadership trainings, workshops, mentoring sessions and read articles on how to give employee feedback. I felt very prepared to tackle the the semi-annual task of meeting with employees to review the progress toward goals and discuss what to focus on next.
In preparing for the discussions, I considered each staff member. I found that with one employee I had missing the mark. I had not provided them the feedback they needed to make the necessary adjustments to grow their career. After some reflection I realized that I was holding back my concerns because I did not know how to resolve the problems that was stalling their progress.
This was my breakthrough for effectively providing feedback. I realized that it is not my responsibility to solve the problem. As a manager, it is my responsibility to bring the problem to their attention. It is the employees responsibility to manager their own career. This revelation helped me to consider how I needed to mentally prepare for meetings to deliver feedback.
Here are the things that I now consider as part of my preparation:
1. Set your intention: To do good for the other person. Remember why you are here, to help them be more productive, grow in their career and to improve overall performance. It is not a meeting for you to complain, vent or dump on them. Be constructive and respectful.
2. Present the issue, do not solve it – If the situation is appropriate for you resolve in the meeting, Ask the employee what they are going to do about it. Then stop talking. Let them come up with the resolution. If the solution they offer is incomplete, ask them, “what else can you do?” and when the solution is determined ask, “how can I help you?”. Silence is golden. Give them time to think and come up with a solution on their own.
3. Be responsible for the energy you bring. – Be direct and honest. Maintain an emotional balance. Often, we need to provide difficult feedback because we are disappointed or frustrated at a situation. Check your emotions at the door. This meeting is not for you to vent, it is for them to grow (refer to #1).
4. Stay focused. Do not let them become a victim, shifting blame to things outside of their control. Keep the conversation on what they have done to contribute to the situation, and what they can do to help improve the situation.
A good rule of thumb is to not present them with any surprises at the formal review. Feedback is a continuous conversation that needs to be timely. Waiting until the formal review is making it more difficult for the giver and the receiver. Remember to follow up throughout the year, continue to be a resource for them and to encourage the correct behavior.