How to Give Feedback and Use Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals

The ability to give feedback and use effective phrases for performance appraisals is essential for shaping your team's performance and keeping them engaged. Businesses that encourage feedback and learning tend to have a more innovative culture. 

Business Coaching Insight:

The key ingredients for feedback are being open, honest, constructive and succinct.

The most basic goal of feedback is to change how someone is performing.

It's easy to tell someone that they're doing a good job but the real challenge is passing on constructive criticism in a way that causes the recipient to take on board what you're saying and then change  how they're behaving.

Tips for creating effective phrases for performance appraisals:

1. Be open and positive

Phrases for performance appraisals need to be given as a gift rather than used as a weapon. 

It is impossible to give effective feedback to someone if you're feeling hardened towards them and you're only seeing their weaknesses. When a person feels like they're under attack their natural response is to defend and protect themselves, rather than really listen. 

When you're in the head space of feeling genuinely open and caring towards the other person, they are much more likely to accept responsibility for the areas you'd like them to improve.

Being open also means being prepared to acknowledge that you may not know or understand the whole picture. Ask questions to find out if there is more to this problem than you know. 

2. Use a balanced and ‘charge-neutral’ tone of voice.

Whatever you’re thinking and feeling is communicated subliminally through tone of voice and body language.

So this is related to the first point. The more open and positive you are as you're using performance appraisal phrases, the more likely it is that the recipient will accept what you're saying and take responsibility for making changes. 

3. Make it actionable

When you're giving feedback your goal is obviously to get your employee to change the way they're doing something. The more precise your instructions and feedback the more likely they are to perform the way you expect.

As an example: "That's not good enough" is a criticism but it doesn't explain how or why it's not good enough.

This kind of vague criticism usually creates confusion so within your effective phrases for performance appraisals give very specific pointers about what needs changing.

4. Give feedback as soon as possible

Generally, in order to be effective, feedback should be delivered just after the behaviour has occurred. Leaving feedback for several months until an employee’s next appraisal will not result in any behaviour change, because they've forgotten about it by then.

Performance appraisals are important but on-the-job feedback along the way is the best way to shape performance.

5. Don't delegate

Many people try and avoid giving negative feedback but even if you have a manager running your business for you, the feedback is best coming from the person who wants to see the change.

6. Use “I” based language

Feedback is much more powerful when you say it in the first person, it makes it much more direct and personal.

For example, “I would like you to stop interrupting in meetings” will have more impact than a general statement like “It’s rude to interrupt in meetings.”

7. Make sure the feedback is understood

Sometimes when people feel uncomfortable about giving feedback they may not articulate it very well which could cause your employee to miss the point altogether.

Miscommunication can be a real problem in these situations at times so, it's important to check how effective you are being with your phrasing. Keep your effective phrases for performance appraisals direct and simple. Avoid jargon, complicated words and phrases and stop yourself if you start trying to 'sugar-coat' any difficult points.

8. State the benefits of changing

Your feedback will be more effective if you give it some context and explain why changing is important.

For example, telling an employee that "you must start working on a task earlier" really has little impact unless you take the time to make sure they understand the consequences of how it impacts the rest of the team and business. 

9. Make sure it falls on “listening” ears

When you're giving feedback ask your employee to paraphrase what you're asking them to do so you can be sure they listened and understood what you told them.

10. Focus on strengths

Every employee has strengths, even those that are causing you problems. So rather than only focusing on picking apart their weaknesses, acknowledge what they are good at and help them overcome their challenges by using these talents. 

When you genuinely care enough to help people grow and develop you not only encourage better performance. Effective phrases for performance appraisals and feedback keeps employees engaged since it shows that you value their contribution.     

Business Coaching Questions:

  • How effective is the feedback you give to your employees?
  • Have you got a system in place for performance appraisals?
  • Are your employees clear about your expectations of them?

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