As a manager, one of the hardest things to learn is, what performance issues to discuss and how. While being the taskmaster is part of being a manager, learning to weigh items that need necessary correction with those inconsequential flaws is an art form. I have had both the manager who points out every error and the one who is so buried that they give no correction at all. While the former seems annoying, I prefer that to no feedback at all.
I like to write out all the negative things I need to discuss with an employee and then ask four questions about each issue.
- Is this a procedural issue? Is this simply an error of not following the right steps.
- Is this a critical behavioral flaw? Were they rude, harassing or socially inappropriate for the workplace.
- Is this a clash of personality? Are people simply not getting along and needing to learn to play better in the sandbox.
- Lastly I ask what will happen if I don’t address this now? If the answer here is nothing, I toss it!
Statistically employees who receive feedback will multiply the bad feedback by three. They are also more likely to forget the positive feedback if it is delivered first. I have found an extremely productive way to give feedback is the sandwich approach. I sandwich all tough feedback between two positive comments. I also do so in writing so that when people are rereading my comments; they can actually see that there is more good than bad, literally, twice as much. I also do this regularly. When you share both good and bad feedback on a regular basis, at a ratio of two to one, it is both easier to take and more believable.