Providing good consistent feedback is essential for an employee’s growth and continued improvement in their career.  However, as it turns out, most supervisors don’t like to give feedback.  It can be difficult to put the right words together to tell someone they aren’t meeting our expectations and most of us don’t want to hurt their feelings, or worse, have them quit because of the feedback. 

Now throw a pandemic into the situation; tensions may already be high, staff are stressed, and worried about all the uncertainty in their lives.  But feedback shouldn’t be set aside during times like these.  Even more consistent feedback will help staff feel they are being communicated with and may help them feel less overwhelmed.  Feedback is always important and can provide a sense of normalcy for staff. 

Here are a few tips when providing feedback.

  • Look for opportunities to provide in the moment feedback.  Don’t wait until your annual review to address an issue of not meeting expectations or to let someone know they are doing a great job, do it right away. 
  • Focus on the behavior not the individual.  Don’t make assumptions about the staff member and why these behaviors are happening.  Have a conversation about the behavior versus lecturing them about what isn’t being done correctly.
  • Provide specifics.  This works for both constructive and positive feedback.  If I don’t know what I did well, I don’t know what to continue.  Likewise, if I don’t know what I didn’t do well, I don’t know what to change.
  • If you are limiting your in-person interactions with co-workers, don’t rely solely on email, pick up the phone or, even better, schedule a virtual meeting.  These more personal interactions will help staff feel connected and valued.
  • If you have staff working from home, schedule a regular “virtual-touch” base meeting in order to stay connected.  During these meetings provide feedback and let the employee know how they are doing.
  • Remember to have some compassion.  Your employees are trying to navigate the new way of doing things and may need a little more assistance or time to get things right.  This doesn’t mean you need to throw your expectations out the window; instead let the employee know what your expectations are and then help them figure out the best way to achieve it.