One of the most difficult challenges on a job is telling a person you are not happy with his/her performance. We just don’t like these confrontations. Providing corrective feedback, however, is a critical communication skill.
There are some guidelines you can use in providing corrective feedback that leads to the result you want.
■ Be Specific about undesired/poor performance
The more specific you are about the poor performance, the more powerful your feedback is in eliminating the performance.
■ Be specific about the desired performance
When you know what performance would have been more appropriate, you can take steps to convince the performer to shift from undesired to desired performance. This may require some training or demonstrations.
■ Don’t correct when angry
When you are angry, you may blame the person unfairly. You are less likely to successfully replace poor performance with a desired performance.
■ Provide corrective feedback in private
Don’t do the feedback in public. This rule is often violated if the person providing the feedback is angry.
■ Provide immediate feedback
Your feedback will have more meaning and be more powerful if it is provided soon after the poor performance. Don’t wait for the performer’s next ‘mistake’ to correct the performance. But also want to be sparing in your feedback. Correcting every little problem can lead to other issues.
■ Share the source of information
Unless the information about poor performance is subjective (e.g., based on gossip), state how you came to know about the performance. Note: If your information about poor performance is subjective, try to obtain data that is more objective. (For example, if there is a rumor that someone is leaving work early, make direct observations to verify the information.)
■ Assess employee’s knowledge of work and expectations
One useful question is, “Could the individual do the behavior if his or her life depended on it?” If the answer is no, the individual does not have the proper knowledge or skills to perform the task. In this case you will need to correct the behavior and provide appropriate training. If the answer is yes, then corrective feedback alone may be used.
■ Discuss influence on others
When you tell the individual how you and others were affected by the poor work performance, you clarify the impact of the behavior on others, which strengthens the information you are providing.
■ Make follow-up plans
Discuss the desired performance. Make action plans with the individual, and make sure there is agreement on how the progress toward desired work performance will be monitored. This is one of the toughest features to accomplish.
■ Catch the person doing it right the next time
To encourage correct performance and eliminate poor work performance, make sure you ‘catch the person doing it right’ the next time and provide positive feedback.
In general, providing corrective feedback is an opportunity for you to help the other person. If done properly, the feedback session will result in clearer expectations of what is needed. These sessions can also be useful in developing stronger personal ties to the other individual because you show that you care.