Giving performance feedback is a critical job responsibility of any manager, but it can be a daunting task for many people—especially when the feedback is less than positive. Managers don’t want to generate negative emotions, damage relationships, or make a bad situation worse. As a result, managers often delay or avoid giving necessary feedback, allowing poor performance to continue.
In The New One Minute Manager, just released this week, authors Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson lay out a time-tested approach to help managers deliver needed feedback. Here are some key takeaways you can use to improve your feedback skills.
Do Your Homework
Before you rush to deliver feedback, make sure clear agreements about goals, norms, roles, and expectations have been established. Often the root cause of poor performance is a lack of clarity around goals. Verify with your direct report that the two of you are operating from the same set of expectations. Many performance issues can be rectified at this stage.
Focus on Behavior
If goals were clear and there is a gap between expectations and observed performance, talk about it. Describe the behavior in specific, not general, terms. Use a neutral tone to ward off any sense of blame or judgment—remember that you are addressing the behavior, not attacking the person. The goal is not to tear people down, but to build them up. As Blanchard and Johnson explain, “When our self-concept is under attack, we feel a need to defend ourselves and our actions, even to the extent of distorting the facts. When people become defensive, they don’t learn.”
Let it Sink In
After giving feedback, pause for a moment so you both can process the situation. Let your direct report feel your concern as well as their own.
When it’s over, it’s over. Don’t dwell on the experience. Be sure to reaffirm your belief, trust, and respect for your team member so that when your meeting is over they are thinking about how they can improve their performance, not about how you mistreated them. Expect that the feedback will be received and acted upon. Be ready to endorse and praise performance when you see improvement.
Take an Extra Minute with Your People
Blanchard and Johnson like to say, “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in my people.” Feedback is an essential managerial skill. Take an extra minute to improve your skills in this important area.
To learn more about the authors’ approach to performance feedback, check out The New One Minute Manager book page. You’ll learn more about the book and see what others are saying. You can even download a free chapter!