How to Give Feedback When Job Performance Needs to Improve

Over the past several weeks I’ve consulted with a number of supervisors who have had to give negative performance feedback to one of their employees. My advice is always the same, follow the PLANNED constructive confrontation model. The P stands for prepare. Imagine the conversation going well. Write out your opening line and commit to memory what you will say to open the meeting.

After reading Anna Maravelas’ book, Mastering a Difficult Conversation, I would add her advice: Open the conversation in the energy of appreciation. Before you open your mouth, think about why you value the person.

In general, life is a mirror; we get back what we send out. Research done by University of Washington psychologist Dr. John Gottman shows 96% of the time the conversation will end as it begins. Conversations that started with harsh words and tone resulted in the other party becoming angry and upset. Conversations that began with warmth and appreciation ended on that same note.

Start by expressing the importance of the relationship. Use a sentence like the following: “My goal is to help you be successful in your job and because of that I need to give you some feedback about your behavior that is stopping your success.” Then describe the specific behaviors that need to change. Remember the old adage; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Simple appreciation can go a long way in improving on the job performance. If you’d like a copy of the PLANNED model, just ask.

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