Feedback is an integral component of the performance management process. Feedback is a means of helping an employee understand how he or she is performing against the critical elements and performance standards in the performance plan.
There are two types of feedback in performance management:
- Informal feedback may happen in a variety of settings, (e.g., hallway, telephone, office, e-mail, etc.) and should be given as soon as possible to the actual situation in order to have the maximum benefit.
- Formal feedback typically happens at the time of a progress review or appraisal, or at any time during the performance appraisal period that the employee's performance becomes less than acceptable.
For feedback to be effective, it needs to be helpful and given in a manner that allows an employee to understand if his or her performance is having the intended effect. Constructive feedback may be either positive or negative:
- Positive Feedback (a.k.a. Positive Reinforcement) - helps an employee understand that what he or she is doing is working well. The more specific the feedback, the more likely the employee will understand and be able to replicate the desired performance.
- Negative Feedback (a.k.a. Constructive Feedback) - helps an employee understand that what he or she is doing is not working well. The more specific the feedback, the more likely the employee will understand and be able to improve performance.
How to Give Constructive Feedback
The most beneficial feedback has the following components:
- Identifies the where and when of the action/situation;
- Provides a statement regarding the impact of the action on others, or the accomplishment of work under the performance plan; and
- Provides specific suggestions for improvement, if applicable.
Helpful Hints in Giving Feedback
You can maximize the benefits of feedback by:
- Giving feedback in a private setting;
- Maintaining a neutral tone;
- Not labeling or categorizing the action (e.g., incomplete staff work or "poor product");
- Not labeling or categorizing the employee (e.g., failure, poor performer);
- Avoiding generalizations such as "You always do XXX" or "You never do "Y";
- Narrowing the scope of the feedback (e.g., do not overload the employee with a mountain of comments, also called "dumping");
- Allowing the employee to react and give his/her perception(s) on the issue; and
- Not engaging in "diagnostic" approaches or supposing to know the employee's poor performance.
Soliciting Relevant Feedback
You need to let the stakeholders (e.g., internal and external clients) know what you are working on so that they can provide positive and negative feedback. When soliciting feedback, you need to pay close attention to the section on "How to Give Constructive Feedback." For example, you asked a stakeholder for feedback on a specific project and his or her response was, " It was fine." This response does not provide you with any specifics nor is it very helpful. In these situations, you want to go back to the stakeholder and ask for specific details on what an employee did and the impact of his or her work.
Sources of Feedback
Rating officials are responsible for, wherever possible, obtaining and using feedback from the employee (self-assessment), internal and external customers, team leaders and members, co-workers, and others, as appropriate, to assess employee performance.