Orchestrating a great feedback session is as much about what you shouldn’t do as what you should.
According to Suzanne Lucas, the Evil HR Lady (EvilHRLady.org), giving feedback improperly is as bad as not giving feedback at all.
Adding to the equation is the fact that many companies, during manager training, tend to focus entirely on what should be done and said in employee feedback sessions — rather than also training mangers on what costly actions and phrases should be avoided at the same time.
So Lucas shared in her always-excellent Inc. Magazine column 10 mistakes that should never be made when providing employee feedback.
Pass these abbreviated versions along to your managers (and go to Lucas’ column for a full breakdown):
- No. 10: Forgetting to say what you want. Don’t just tell employees what they screwed up. Tell them what you want them to do going forward.
- No. 9: Failing to document. Create a paper trail. It helps when you have to justify a decision. Document not only what the employee did wrong, but also what goals you set for them in the future.
- No. 8: Bringing up info that doesn’t matter. Lucas says if an employee misses a deadline, say they missed the deadline … period. Don’t say, “You missed a deadline because of your FMLA leave.” Comments like that have the makings of a retaliation lawsuit.
- No. 7: Only providing the big, annual review. Let employees know where they stand throughout the year – not in one big info dump.
- No. 6: Saving up complaints. Don’t dump a slew of complaints on someone all at once. It’s demoralizing. Plus, it waters down your feedback. Reason? Because now, instead of having to focus on correcting one thing at a time over a period of time, they’re focusing on fixing multiple things at once.
- No. 5: Failing to praise in public. Offering praise in front of someone’s peers is far more powerful than an “attaboy” behind closed doors.
- No. 4: Failing to give the good with the bad. If you only tell employees what they’re doing wrong, they’ll assume you don’t like their work and that they aren’t a good fit. As a result, they’ll look to move on.
- No. 3: Giving negative feedback in front of others. Public humiliation isn’t the way to bring the best out of people.
- No. 2: Showing anger. If you’re angry, take a moment to calm down. When you’re angry, you’re more likely to say something that you’ll wish you could take back — or that could get yourself or the company in trouble.
- No. 1: Yelling. Screaming at someone will only make the person more frazzled. Also, see No. 2.