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The Smart Approach to Providing Employee Feedback

Jim Dawson Comments

As a self-storage owner or manager, it’s your job to help your employees reach higher levels of performance. You must reach inside yourself to find the interest, words and passion that encourage others to tap into their potential. It is your responsibility to give the kind of support, guidance and feedback that changes lives.

To do it well, you must have genuine respect for the individuals you influence and a sincere desire to contribute to their growth. Your intent determines whether what you say or do is discouraging or affirming.

Successful feedback validates what others have done well and guides them in the direction they need to go. It’s not a once-a-year conversation, it’s an ongoing dialogue that motivates behavior and inspires excellence.

So why do most owners/managers wait until the end of the year to give feedback to their employees? What is it about our business culture that inhibits immediate conversations about what’s going on and what can be done better?

Part of the problem is today’s jobs are increasingly knowledge-based, technology-oriented and isolating. We aren’t used to having straightforward conversations about disagreements and performance challenges. As a result, managers and owners need the ability to influence others and create cohesive teams. To be successful, we need to give and receive feedback at the time it is warranted.

Engaging Conversations

Engaging conversations help others to agree with you about what they need to do. If an employee is often late, help him understand why this behavior has to change. Then ask the employee to make a commitment to be on time. Be clear about what will happen if the agreement is violated, and be prepared to enforce the consequences.

If someone on your team has made a mistake, ask, “At the time this happened, what were you thinking?” Take time to show you are interested in what this person is saying. Then ask, “What do you think you can do differently next time?” or “What ideas do you have for how you can avoid doing that in the future?” Let the employee come up with the answers. The point is to examine the facts—not to make the other person wrong.

Proactive Approach

To be proactive, you have to observe what people are doing and be seen making these observations. This gives you the opportunity to eliminate mistakes as or before they happen. Don’t be afraid to analyze mistakes openly with your direct reports, peers or even your own supervisor.

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