10/11/14 By Jennifer Brown

employeesProviding feedback face-to-face can elicit feelings of anxiety for both the manager and employee – especially if the feedback relates to underperformance. At the end of day, you want the employee to leave the meeting feeling excited and motivated about her abilities and opportunities for growth as well as view you as a trusted resource. Follow these strategies to make the meeting count:

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – Did I mention to prepare?

The most common reason we stress come review time is that we have not prepared adequately in advance. Whether we did not keep track of our employee’s performance throughout the year or had to rush through the written phase of the review to meet a deadline, not preparing will set you up to fail. When you prepare in advance, you are able to identify opportunities for feedback and areas of improvement holistically – not just focusing on what the employee accomplished last week. Your employees will be able to pick up on whether you are prepared or not. If they sense you are not prepared, they may feel discouraged. Prior to the meeting, write down a few bullet points highlighting key areas you want to address (both positive and constructive). This will keep you on point.

Set Expectations Up Front

At the start of the meeting, the first thing you should do is walk your employee briefly through what to expect in the meeting. Discuss how long you expect the meeting to take place (ideally 45 – 60 minutes) and what you are going to discuss. This will help both you and him relax now that you are on the same page. Let him know what you would like to accomplish in the meeting and be sure to ask what he would like to accomplish as well.

Remember to LISTEN

It is very easy to do ALL of the talking. However, the meeting should be a discussion rather than a lecture. Set a goal where the employee talks at least half of the time. Remember to ask questions such as ‘What successes over the past year are you most proud of?’, ‘What teachable moments did you have this year/what did you learn from them?’, and ‘How can I be a better manager for you?’. You’ll be amazed at how receptive your employee will be to your feedback when she feels like her perspective is not only heard, but welcomed.

Be an Advocate for Success

Your employee must truly believe you have his best interest in mind and that your feedback and insight are genuine. Let him know you have confidence in his ability and will support his professional development objectives. Be his advocate for success!

Constructive Feedback

Offering and receiving constructive feedback on our abilities and performance can be challenging. However, it is important to approach performance issues directly – glossing over it or worse yet not addressing it at all will only lead to continued poor performance. When discussing an area of improvement with your employee, be prepared with specific examples of where she could have improved. Make sure she understands not only the results desired, but also the metrics used to assess her performance. The more you are able to identify a pattern of performance using specific examples, the more likely she will improve as well as ‘buy-in’ to your feedback.

Continuous Feedback

You’ve held a successful meeting…congrats, but you aren’t done yet! Along with your employee, set a few checkpoints throughout the coming year to briefly review his performance – both for areas where he excels and those for which he needs to improve. Continuous feedback and open communication between yourself and your employees will lead to improved job performance, improved morale and a successful organization overall…not to mention a pleasant performance review meeting next year!

Using these strategies to prepare and execute your face-to-face meeting will set you up for success. Make the meeting count. Ultimately, your goal is to create an open dialog with your employee, celebrate her accomplishments and motivate her for success in the coming year. It all starts here.