Entrepreneurship · Leadership

How often should I give employee feedback?


August 7th, 2015

I know how important it is to give highly structured feedback to employees. It helps with productivity and retention, which is something everyone (myself included) wants to raise. I think a lot of it has to do with the format in which you present the feedback. What formatting have people had good success and response with? How often should you present feedback?

Rich Goidel Business strategist, group facilitator, agile practitioner and corporate muse

August 7th, 2015

In my experience, when people say "feedback," they really mean "review."

Formal reviews (quarterly, yearly, etc.) can be great opportunities for growth and alignment. And, for getting very clear on goals and expectations. There's no shortage of online content for good review formats. I'd suggest a simple search, and pick what resonates with you.

One of the best reviews I ever heard about was kind of a "reverse" review: Instead of providing a critique to the employee, you ask the employee to give you the review. This is a wonderful way to open up real dialogue.

Now, feedback, on the other hand, generally works well when it's given often, authentically, without drama and without judgement ... and with a healthy dose of appreciation and support.

Further, I would submit that, without regular feedback, formal reviews lose much of their value.

Personally, if asked to choose, I'd focus on feedback skills first, and worry about formal reviews second. I've found a total lack of the former, and way too many ineffective instances of the latter.

Food for thought, anyway. :-)

Sam McAfee Building better technology leaders and teams

August 7th, 2015

Feedback loops should be as tight as you can make them without it getting cumbersome. It depends on how many direct reports you have (more than 5 or 6 per manager gets unwieldy, and I have had as many as 25 in a past job).

I would typically do a 30 min walk-n-talk with each team member once a week, if possible, definitely every two weeks. Once a month or quarter is kind of pushing it. If you do it more frequently, the conversation can be shorter. If you have to do it farther apart, maybe stay in the office because the conversation will be longer.

Also, the feedback is two-way. Be prepared to hear feedback from them as well. In fact, you may have to encourage that since some people will be intimidated to give you honest feedback. You can always surface some of your own self-critique to get them started. It should just become a part of your culture that you have regular, safe, open and honest conversations, both between peers, but also with managers and reports. Good leaders are unafraid of solid, honest blunt feedback from their employees.

Finally, it's good to have specific, actionable goals established first as a guideline for what kind of feedback you are giving and getting. Don't be wishy-washy. Use goals that are both for their personal growth but also aligned with the company goals.

There is more I could say, but that's the basics.

Gian Sciuchetti Global Leader - Leading Marketer - Entrepreneur - Lecturer

August 7th, 2015

Hi Ryan, I am a big believer in spontaneous feedback, given immediately. And then of course you also need the structured sessions. But the first ones make the real difference in motivation and going the extra mile. Best, Gian Carlo Von meinem iPhone gesendet

Jeffrey Gray Founder and CEO at Brave Enterprises, LLC

August 7th, 2015

The frequency depends on how closely you are working together.  If you supervise them directly and work together all day, you should be giving feedback in real time.  Things like  "Nice work" and "Good job" are good to hear regularly, but a little more personal works even better, like "I like how you phrased that" for an email or proposal, or "you have a gift for creative thinking".  To bring them to the next level, you follow up with a way for them to improve their work.  "This is a great approach to responding to their request.  But if you added, blah blah blah, it would open an opportunity to cross sell them into blah blah blah.  This turns a service problem into a revenue opportunity."  If you are working remotely from the employee, you can still provide real time feedback, but it is harder to read them and know if they are taking it well.  Coaching is easier face to face so that you can modulate your feedback to their ability to absord it. Formal employee reviews should be done at least annually, but if you are giving real time feedback, and if you have performance based pay systems that reward merit, then the annual review will be reduced to a very nice one on one chat with each employee, which can help to build employee alignment.  For new employees, start up operations or those in transition, a six month or three month review can be more appropriate.  A steady state operation or established employees can be less frequent. Jeffrey Gray 214-402-4423 cell jaidangray@yahoo.com

Laura PhD Associate Professor, Psychology at University of Arizona

August 7th, 2015

People management is one important so I'm glad you asked this questions! You are giving your employees feedback every time you interact with them. Negative experiences are more memorable than are positive ones and successful people struggle on how to handle criticism or negative feedback. I have found success if you provide feedback on what people have done well as that helps them do more of that behavior.

Steve Owens Startup Expert

August 7th, 2015

I give feedback every day. I ignore incorrect behavior, and reward correct behavior.

Correct behavior is behavior that furthers our customers interest and is in alignment with our mission. Incorrect behavior adds nothing to our customers and/or is not in alignment with our mission.

Be careful on the reward side. Each person has a different idea of "reward" and a reward for one person, could be punishment for another.

Hire the right people to begin with and all this becomes simple. In fact, if you hire the right people and promote the right culture, feedback will happen without you.

Posy Gering Organizational Development, Leadership Coach, Communications, Author of The Next You

August 7th, 2015

I'm curious what you mean by "feedback" in your question, as there a lot of possible definitions of the word.

If you meant something in the realm of general coaching, the more you can catch people doing something right, the higher your team will perform. Specifically, this means noticing the small but significant behaviors on a daily basis. Talking about them in context gives you and the employee opportunities to identify what externalities and/or thought processes that made those positive moves possible.

If you meant delivering difficult or critical assessment, we're talking about something different. There, it's important to focus on specific observable behavior, something both of you can agree on, what the impact of it was, and what he or she might do differently.

If you are talking about reviews of overall performance, that's something different again - I think there are lots of good suggestions, from other folks.

Or are you talking about something different entirely?

Andrew Lockley Investments & consulting for tech startups

August 7th, 2015

Instant feedback is important. This sounds hard, but it's surprisingly easy to do well with minimal effort. Follow the simple formula below for success Good performance - take no action Mediocre performance - terse sarcasm Bad performance - apoplectic shouting This has been used for generations to get the very best out of workforces. Andrew Lockley Andrewlockley.com

Tom Stearns Marketing and Sales Strategy, Content Strategy, Sales Development

August 7th, 2015

I'm a fan of good open and ongoing communication with employees and colleagues. I think formalizing it is nice if the organization is large enough to need that. In my experience in smaller companies and startups there is no need to bog things down in format. Ongoing feedback presented in a constructive manner is healthy and can happen as often as necessary.

I do a lot of coaching and training with newer younger members of companies and they crave regular feedback and instruction. They want to learn and they seem to be ready to hear just about anything. Good and bad. As long as it helps them improve they're game to hear it. 

Erika PhD Program Manager & Psychologist

August 7th, 2015

Ongoing feedback is the best. However, formal written evaluations every 6 months are a good start. The key is for the evaluation not to come as a surprise. Weekly or monthly informal discussions about professional goals can be helpful.