Recently, I was coaching a new manager at a local small business on giving corrective feedback, so I thought it would be helpful to repost this. A refresher course on corrective performance feedback can always be helpful! I would like to credit The Management Center of Washington, DC and the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County for teaching me these skills.
*Arrange a time to talk. (Ideally as soon after the behavior as possible, while also making sure that you can talk privately without interruption.)
*State your intent–ideally a shared vision or a goal: “I want to make sure that we are leaving the best possible impression on our key funders and community members so that they remain engaged and active in our organization.”
*Describe the behavior you’ve observed in a short sentence: “I’ve noticed recently that you are having trouble communicating with key people in our organization and maintaining good relationships with them.”
*Provide 2-3 specific, concrete, relevant examples to support your feedback: “First, in the recent meeting with Gary, I noticed that you did not have many positive statements to contribute compared to the number of negative statements about his fundraising proposal, then I saw an email you sent to Mitchell (who you know is a very important donor) where you made a strong negative statement against his preferred location for our upcoming gala…”
Note: If you don’t have more than one example, consider whether this issue requires corrective action or whether the staff member has already learned the lesson on his or her own. You may approach this conversation differently if this is the first mistake and you suspect that the staff member recognizes his or her mistake already and is already working to improve.
*State the impact of the behavior on you, and as appropriate on your team, department, or organization: “If we were to lose Gary as a board member, and Mitchell as a major funder, we could potentially lose millions of dollars of funding, as well as their expert advice. Gary and Mitchell have had great advice for us in the past, and I really take their opinions seriously. I felt furious and then embarrassed when I saw that these two important people were not being treated with a high amount of respect for their ideas.”
*State what you would prefer instead: “I would like to see you offering the highest respect and putting your most positive self forward when interacting with outside people, so that we leave them with an excellent impression and so that we can continue to receive their advice and expertise.”
*Restate your shared vision or goal: “I know that we both care about the success of our organization, and the way that people perceive us is a big part of that.”
Here are some more tips for performance feedback and asking for change: