Let’s talk performance! This isn’t usually at the top of your to-do list. The proper planning, time and energy involved is stressful, for you and your staff. In this anxiety-ridden environment, it’s no wonder we make mistakes! The problem is that we don’t communicate performance successes and improvements often enough.

Fundamentally, feedback is a tool that helps us celebrate successes and improve strengths. Sharing your point of view gives others insight and an advantage on their ongoing work performance. Wait too long to share and you may have lost the lead for your team!

Delivering performance feedback can be very rewarding and stress-free; yet so many have a hard time getting it right!

In a post by Sue Dyer entitled, The Root Causes of Poor Communication, she explains that “More than 95 percent of team members said that good communication was the reason for their success.” She also explains that “95 percent said that poor communication was the reason for their failures. Clearly communication appears to be the key to project success.”

It’s time to sharpen our feedback skills on an on-going basis. Deliver feedback often and regularly and avoid the communications traps below. How have you delivered performance feedback in the past? Which of these are you guilty of?


1. Tell an employee you have feedback for them and then schedule a meeting 4 days later.

Your schedule is full but you wanted to give her a heads up! Imagine the agony of the next four days on your employee! Do it immediately and remember to start with the positives.

2. Tell an employee you have a list of items you want to discuss with them and then only discuss one positive item.

You had a list of good and not-so-good feedback to share and then chickened out at the last minute. Mixed messages will never instill trust. Instead of changing your game plan, share the goal of your feedback session: Explain that the goal of the meeting is to help them perform even better and that you have some tips to help them out. Focus on future performance!

3. Provide feedback on what can be improved without celebrating successes.

You only have time to share what he can do better next time. He leaves feeling de-motivated and unappreciated. Tip: Start with 3 positives and provide several small or one large improvement item. Learn how Starting with the Positives helped this manager.

4. Don’t have a plan for what you will say.

Always have a plan! Being a leader means having employee meetings that instill confidence and empower future performance. Your quick and easy planning tool can help: The 3+1 Feedback Form.

5. Provide feedback in an email without offering an opportunity to connect within the next 24 hours in person or over the phone.

Feedback in an email is not recommended but sometimes it’s your only solution. Remember that writing it down means you need to take more time and extra special care in your selection of words and tone. And ALWAYS offer an open invitation to connect once they read the note. This will offer you a chance to clear up misunderstandings.

6. Wanted to provide feedback but never get around to doing it.

You feel that your high performers know they do a good job, but you’ve not had time to tell them officially! The feedback to get your employees’ performance from great to excellent never gets through… these missed opportunities can be costly! You may lose a great employee, a great client, or a revenue stream! It’s time to make time; the benefits will be worth it.

7. Deliver critical feedback in public or in passing because you ran out of time to schedule a meeting.

A conversation of this nature deserves the respect of four walls, even if it only takes 10 or 15 minutes. Making a focused commitment communicates respect and develops trust.

8. Deliver feedback focused only on what you want and do not consider if the employee is ready to hear and act upon your words of wisdom.

Always consider your audience!  If they are not ready to hear it, it will do more harm than good.  Your goal is to get them ready to hear your perspective. Often asking questions and listening first is your best strategy.

9. Let a disagreement grow into conflict.

Disagreements are critical to business growth. Managing this conflict in a respectful manner gains respect, trust, and loyalty! Do what you need to do, even if it means saying you were wrong.

10. Do all the talking and forget to exercise your listening skills.

Plan to listen first. The best strategy starts with asking the employee to self-assess their behaviour based on a pre-determined list of expected actions (a job description or task list). Listen with the intent to listen and understand their valuable perspective. Then share to build on what you have learned.

Which one of these communication traps should you stop doing?  Which of these suggestions to deliver effective performance feedback will you start doing? What are you already doing that has positive impact?  If you don’t know, find out! Make improvements, monitor results and watch the positive changes around you! Remember this great quote from John Powell, “Communication works for those who work at it.

Sonia’s mission is to help leaders cultivate trust and collaboration! Sonia Di Maulo (BA in Communication Studies and MA in Educational Technology) is Founder and Lead Feedback Enthusiast of Harvest Performance. You can connect with Sonia on Twitter or LinkedIn. She blogs at Ready to Feedback and on the Lead Change Group blog.


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