Better-boss.com advocates for casual, frequent performance feedback using the following formula: 1) ask if you can provide feedback; 2) provide feedback using the format "when you do X, it has Y impact"; 3) finish with a question asking them to change or an affirmation that they should keep it up. Feedback is short, simple, and can be about any work behavior. All posts about feedback assume this formula and strategy.
One of this blog's tenets of feedback is that feedback can be about any work behavior. When I discuss this with people who are new to the idea of frequent feedback, "any work behavior" is a common area of resistance. Surely, they argue, some things are simply expected. It would be BLANK to give feedback about such mundane things (fill in the blank with your choice: irrelevant, condescending, counter-productive, etc.).
When I am confronted with this point of view, I go through the usual explanations. The person may be picturing praise or punishment rather than feedback, which creates a completely different dynamic to the conversation. Part of the value of feedback is acknowledging that you as manager notice the employee's work, so there is value in mentioning the "obvious" things. Because feedback is about impacts, not just actions, some of the "obvious" things aren't so obvious after all.
I explain all these things. The easiest way to make the case, though, is to just show feedback in action. Here are 20 feedback examples. Judge for yourself whether they are worth giving to employees.
- When you are on time and ready to work every day, it makes my job and your coworkers' jobs a little easier. Not everyone does, and I end up worrying about those folks every time they're late. Knowing you're here and ready to go is one less worry, so thank you.
- When you are late to work, I worry. There's the concern that I'll have to make last-minute adjustments to the day's plan, which will cause slowdowns. And there's also that little part of me which worries something might have happened to you. Can you work on getting here on time every day?
- When you put real thought and energy into reporting, such as working on annual goals, it makes our planning more effective because you've already sorted out many details. Keep it up.
- When you don't put much thought into your reporting, such as not coming prepared with any ideas for annual goals, it makes our planning less effective because we have to start from square one during our conversation. Can you work on being more prepared in the future?
- When you emphasize to your team that changes always come with tweaking and playing around, like you did when rolling out the new supply chain process, it keeps staff from being nervous that they will be locked into a bad process. Nicely done.
- When you roll out change without addressing that there will be nuances and tweaks to make along the way, staff may end up feeling like they are locked into an imperfect first draft of a plan. Can you work on adding some of that language in the future?
- When you send emails that have clear suggested next steps, it moves the conversation forward. That's smart communication.
- When you send emails that don't provide a clear sense for your opinion on how to proceed, it can make the conversation stall. Can you work on being more action-oriented with your communication in the future?
- When you come to our one-on-ones with a robust list of topics, it tells me a few things. First, it is clear that you want to use our time together as effectively as possible. Second, you often end up covering several things on my list, which means we can get to bigger picture conversations more often. Well done!
- When you come to our one-on-ones every week with zero things to talk about, it suggests that you don't see any value in communicating with your manager. I know that is not the message you are trying to send, so can you work on it?
- When you come to me to discuss sensitive issues, like our conversation last week, it shows that you are willing to be candid and that you trust me to support you. I truly appreciate that.
- When you avoid mentioning issues until they are at a breaking point, like the confrontation that happened last week, it means we don't get the chance to solve problems when they're still small. Would you work on being more direct when there are potential issues on the horizon?
- When you take initiative for your own training, like reaching out to coworkers about shadowing on processes, it gets you up to speed that much faster and it shows that you're interested in doing the best job possible. Thank you for that.
- When you don't take any steps to get trained, it takes that much longer for you to get up to speed on the work. That makes more work for everyone, including you, in the long run. Can you work on that?
- When you keep the display area so immaculate, it bespeaks professionalism, and it is clear that the customers notice. Keep up the good work.
- When your display area is disorganized, it reads as unprofessional, and it is clear that the customers notice. Would you work on that?
- When you capitalize on local events, like developing that collaboration for the recent block party, it shows quick thinking. Well done!
- When you don't generate any new ideas for months at a time, it gives the impression that you're not putting much thought into the job. Can you work on it?
- When you discuss things with your staff using a "listening" mentality, I can tell that they feel heard. It is clear that communication strategy is helping them get on board with the things you say. Keep it up.
- When you spend so much more time talking than listening in discussions with your staff, it is clear from the looks on their faces that they do not feel heard. You may not realize it, but that communication strategy is creating resistance that you could avoid. Can you work on asking more open-ended questions and listening to their points?