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The Smart Approach to Providing Employee Feedback

Jim Dawson Comments
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Stating the ideal. Paint a picture about what the future could look like if person realizes a higher potential.

Immediate and confirmed. Give your feedback as soon as possible, and check for understanding by asking the person to summarize the points made.

A two-way conversation. One of the best ways to gain trust and develop your own effectiveness is to ask for feedback and accept it graciously. If the feedback is sincere, find the truth within it and change your behavior accordingly.

Giving Feedback

If you are not used to giving immediate feedback it may seem awkward at first. The key is to be respectful of the other person and use direct but affirmative language. Here are a few tips to smooth the way:

Use “I” messages. Own what you say and only use another person’s name and comments when you have their permission.

Use “and” instead of “but.” Defenses go up when you say, “You are doing a good job, but...” Use “and” to transition to comments on what the employee can do better.

Talk about what went well and what you want done differently, instead of using judgmental terms such as what went right or what went wrong.

Be aware of the non-verbal messages you are sending including eye contact, gestures and tone of voice.

Avoid using absolute terms such as always, never, all the time. They are rarely true and can make people defensive.

If you keep an open dialogue going with those you supervise, there should be few surprises. As you learn to give immediate feedback, keep the end in mind. What you say and do has the power to change lives. As a person in authority, it’s your job and responsibility to lead others with your example, conviction and feedback. In time, your employees will welcome your interaction and you will make valuable contributions to their success.

James Dawson is a managing partner of ADI Performance, a full-service training enterprise specializing in developing and delivering programs that result in improved business practices and organizational cost efficiencies. To reach him, call 800.234.1550; visit

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