It’s important to strike a balance between formal and informal feedback. Formal feedback involves scheduling official meetings with employees where you can confirm that they understand your viewpoint and you can discuss topics in greater detail.
However, when feedback is only provided in these meetings, it generally means it is not provided in any other context. For this reason, it is important that employees also receive more informal and spontaneous feedback, which will allow for continuous exchange. A balanced mix of both types of feedback is the ideal.
Success stories and improvements should be discussed on a regular basis, or even daily, when events arise. For example, when an employee successfully completes a project, it’s a good time to congratulate her and express satisfaction to encourage her to keep up the good work (positive feedback). When an employee is undiplomatic with a customer, you could show him a better way to react so he improves (constructive feedback). These two employees shouldn’t have any surprise discussions about these events at their assessment meeting.
However, valid feedback needs to be factual, specific, clear and well-timed. False feedback will not yield the right results and make the employee feel discouraged. It’s important to find the right time, and to adapt feedback to employees by indicating why you are praising them or how they should improve.
It can get complicated in situations with underperforming employees when a manager needs to show great managerial courage. The only way to give constructive feedback is on a regular basis and in small doses. If you get into the habit of giving feedback, it will get easier and you’ll see benefits quickly.
Now that your employees are regularly informed about their performance and they know how to improve, make sure you’re well prepared for the performance review meeting!