Last month I wrote about the importance of giving feedback and why, knowing how important it is, so many managers fail to give feedback effectively. This month I want to give you some practical tips on how to prepare to give negative feedback that is essential for your employees’ career development.
Giving effective feedback starts with preparation. You need to prepare like you would for any important meeting. Prepare your opening, thinking about how you can put the employee at ease and keeping in mind the employee’s motivation. Craft a clear message – focusing on the behaviors, the actions you want to see change. Choose one thing, not five to discuss.
You’ve developed a clear theme. Now, break the message into concrete, specific behaviors.
You can use the easy-to-remember formula EAR:
Event – the specific occasion
Action – what the person did that you observed
Result – the impact on you, the team, the client
If you suspect the employee might not understand or accept the example you plan to give, then prepare a second example. Normally, this won’t have been an isolated event. Use the E-A-R formula in preparing every example.
Please note, you do not need to prepare a solution to the problem. If you tell people how to resolve the problem, you risk damaging their motivation, engagement and more importantly ownership of the solution. Once employees accept the need to improve specific behaviours, you can guide them through coaching: listening, summarising, making observations, giving additional feedback and encouraging reflection by the questions you ask.