The underlying intent of employee development is to create desired change from within, so that the company can succeed in making its changes stick. Providing feedback is essential to quality employee development. So, how can you deliver training feedback—whether positive or negative—in a way that promotes effective change? How do you deliver it in a way that employees will receive it well and ensure that it makes a lasting difference to them and the organization?
Mastering Effective Training Feedback
Most employees want appreciation, and constructive feedback—the kind that says “I see your efforts, and recognize your hard work. Here are some areas where you excel, and here’s how I think you can go even further.” EmployeePerformance.com says, “Like evolution, employee development should be an iterative process. Train, evaluate, adapt, train, evaluate, adapt. The shorter the feedback loop, the better, so keep your evaluation criteria few and simple. One of the first places to seek evaluation data is from the employees in a training program.”
Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when offering developmental training feedback to employees:
- Above all else, create a safe environment first. Feedback from a trusted supervisor in a supportive atmosphere has a successful advantage to feedback in a relationship tinged with tension.
- Give feedback in private. This should go without saying, but never criticize in public. If sitting behind a desk seems like it would interfere with your employee openly receiving feedback, take a walk together.
- Nip it in the bud. The adult brain learns best by being caught in action. Waiting to weigh in on performance or behavior months later completely dilutes your efforts and the effectiveness of the feedback. “I did what???” is not conducive to change.
- Specificity matters with feedback. Nobody likes to read between the lines, and employees should not have to. It is a failure on your part if you expect them to infer what you are saying. If it’s something that makes you uncomfortable, it may be a matter for Human Resources to join in. Otherwise, be completely clear, and offer specific examples and details. “You do a great job with initial sales calls, but you only send follow up emails to 50% of your leads instead of the full 100%.” This lets the employee know that you are expecting to see specific behavior/performance upticks in the very near future.
- Be honest. People have internal radars and will know if they are receiving feedback for hidden reasons. Make sure it is your true intention to honestly provide help and positive corrrection.
- Be positive! Start with a positive comment, and end on a positive note. Constructive feedback can be hard to digest, and most likely your employee has forgotten the pleasant words you started with in the beginning. It will have a lasting impact if you end on a positive note about their value.
- Try the 3x3 method. Offer three bits of encouragement and three areas of needed improvement. In his book “You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard,” Bert Decker says, “Receiving three bits of feedback at a time allows people to make course corrections, like a guided missile, as they keep moving onward and upward.”
- Provide tools. Are you offering the scaffolding your employee needs to implement your requested changes? Will you make sure to provide training, or extra time, or support in the form of a mentor?
- Have a plan of action. Your efforts in creating a safe atmosphere and providing effective, specific feedback will go to waste if you don’t have a continuity plan. If you want your employee development efforts to have long-lasting impact, you will have to agree on a process over time to measure and discuss key indicators. Follow up by giving employees the attention and resources they need to make the most of their development.
- Remind your employees that they are appreciated. Everyone needs to hear this more than once. Praise goes much farther than threats!