How to give effective feedback to your team during appraisal

Providing constructive, unbiased feedback during performance reviews is not always an easy task. Often, as a manager, you will need to provide honest and open feedback without damaging work relationships or hurting the employee’s feelings.   The objective is to ensure that employees are not demoralized at the end of the review and stay motivated to perform better.

So how can managers provide thoughtful performance feedback without stirring up negative feelings?  First, ensure that employees understand the process, the evaluation criteria as well as the outcomes expected of them. Provide feedback throughout the year so they do not feel blindsided by unexpected information during the review. You can also have your team members complete a self-evaluation form ahead of time to increase their buy in.

Here are some other important things to consider:

  • Provide constructive feedback: One way to make appraisal feedback less nerve-racking is to display a relaxed demeanor and a courteous attitude throughout the review process. Provide even negative feedback in a constructive way. This requires being problem specific and showing the employees the areas of improvement. For instance, you can start the conversation by telling the employee that they need to meet the deadlines or they need to come in to office on time. This will make your feedback more specific and more actionable. You can also weave some positive feedback along with negative feedback to tell the employee that you're not criticizing their overall performance but bringing out certain aspects of their job that need attention.
  • Give a clear-cut message: Many a time, to soften the blow, managers’ sandwich negative performance feedback between two positive ones. As there is no clear message, this approach can confuse employees, demotivating your star performers and falsely encouraging your poor performers. In order to enhance your team’s performance, you should concentrate on the tasks that an employee has performed well, resulting in outcomes that align with the company’s business objectives. Clear communication allows you to explain the reasons behind the appraisal and set the right expectations, enabling poor performers to improve areas that are not well aligned with the business goals.

  • Provide insightful coaching: After discussing strengths and weaknesses of the employees, you need to tell them specifically what is not working in the current situation and what actions they can take to improve the situation. You can, for instance, tell them about the initiatives they can take to improve sales or you can quote an example of an employee who has taken proactive measures to improve sales. However, while giving specific advice, ensure that you provide targeted praise. This will keep the individual motivated. Ideally, you should end the review on a positive note that includes a recap of the next steps and identifying a date for a follow up discussion.

 Employees work best when they feel valued and are contributing to the company. So it’s important to give them a voice during the appraisal process. While this may not change the rating, it provides the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding and increase the chances of employees accepting the feedback. Effective feedback that outlines the connection between employee performance and business outcomes boosts job relevant and goal oriented behaviors, a win-win for everyone involved


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