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SMU's Annual Performance Review - Manager's Tutorial

SMU HR Resources

SMU's Annual Performance Review - Manager's Tutorial

Writing Constructive Feedback

One of the most important reasons we complete an Annual Performance Review is to provide our employees with accurate, specific feedback on their performance. As a manager, you are responsible for providing performance feedback not only in the review, but also throughout the year. In an appraisal discussion, you can provide two types of performance feedback.

1. Positive performance feedback is used to recognize and encourage good performance.

2. Constructive, critical performance feedback is used to help employees better understand the steps they can take to improve their performance.

As you plan for the upcoming review process, keep in mind the following guidelines for administering performance feedback:

 Effective Feedback Is:
Effective Feedback Is Not:
Direct Ambiguous or misleading
Intended to develop the employee Hostile, condescending, or belittling
Forthright Withholding feedback because it is uncomfortable to deliver or hear
Honest Misleading or obscure
Complete Based on incomplete data or rumor
Limited to the last few weeks of performance
Balanced Focused solely on what the employee has done wrong, or limited to areas for improvement
Specific and descriptive Broad generalities: "Not a team player"
Behavior-based Based on speculation about motive or intent
Focused on results achieved
Focused on efforts expended
Directed to things that are within the employee's control
Directed to things that are outside of the employee's control
The problem with a lot of performance feedback is that it's "fuzzy." In other words, it's vague, misleading or incomplete. Feedback is useful only when it is clear enough to allow an individual to target areas for improvement, or on key performance strengths. Consider the following examples: 

Fuzzy Feedback:
Effective Feedback:
Expectation: Initiative
Rating: Absent
"Pat just doesn't seem to care about doing a quality job." "The quality of material produced on the project fell significantly short of our performance standard. The final document contained ten typographical errors, three spreadsheets were calculated incorrectly and the document was delivered one week late with no communication or problem solving regarding the delay."
Expectation: Building Trust
Rating: Learning
"Pat needs to 'get the lead out' and move faster." "Pat has been having a difficult time meeting deadlines for our project status reports. He needs to have his reports complete and e-mailed to the team by noon each Wednesday. He has missed this deadline by up to four hours, three times during the past two months."
Expectation: Communication
Rating: Doing
"Pat is a pretty good communicator.” "He often proactively adds agenda items to our team meetings informing us of pertinent issues such as customer service perceptions and possible scheduling problems. Consistently communicates clearly and concisely in his monthly e-mail team updates."
Expectation: Teamwork Rating: Excelling
"Pat gets along really well with the other members of our team." "Pat is extremely well-respected by the other members of our team as someone who is willing to assist others when they need help. In addition, during the past two months Pat has volunteered to help with the training and orientation of Jessie, the newest member of our team. Pat has also taken on significant responsibility helping test and launch our new website."