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Providing actionable feedback: Coaching for change

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How do you provide feedback to your employees? Does your organization provide scheduled check ins with each employee throughout the year? Or are you caught in the cycle of annual performance reviews that often leave both the manager and employee searching for information to fill in the gaps for HR. Whichever method you choose to evaluate your teams, remember the goal is to provide feedback that recognizes the employee's strengths and contains an actionable plan to address "opportunities" with job performance.

Providing feedback to your team is one of the most integral duties you will carry out as a manager. In your role, you have observed their performance over a period of time and should be able to speak intelligently to the highlights of their reel.

To successfully accomplish this task, you must refer back to a record of accomplishments you filed away for each employee. Keep a journal of your coaching moments and include any moments where you provided them with recognition for a job well done. Remember that the review should be conversational and not just a one sided dialogue. A good leader will solicit feedback from employees regarding their performance.

The dialogue between manager and employee must consist of 3 key moments. For veteran employees, start the conversation off with a recap of their most recent review. For employees who are newer in their role, revisit the overall expectations of their role and break the ice a little. Both introductions will enable the employee to create ownership for their side of the conversation.

Recognize any successes the employee has had throughout the review period. Celebrate their wins and reinforce positive behaviors. Build up their confidence because deep down, everyone desires praise for a job well done.

During this portion of the conversation, introduce performance issues and address problems head on. Be straightforward with your people. If you fail to provide any member of your team with open and honest feedback regarding their performance, you run the surefire risk of creating a culture of mediocrity.

Be assured, your spineless acts of pity won't win you any rave reviews with HR or legal, should you opt to terminate an employee for under-performance. To change behaviors and foster growth, a good leader must be willing to provide the unpopular feedback and challenge their employees to elevate their success in the role.

Once you have inflated the ego of a rock star or had a fork in the road conversation with an under performing employee, the next step in the process is to set accountability for their results going forward. It does not matter if an employee has a stellar track record or a file filled with coaching moments.

Be consistent in goal setting across the board. Now is NOT the time to play favorites or engage in office politics. Set clear expectations for each employee. Gain buy in and secure their commitment to goals that are specific, measurable, and time bound. Your team deserves to know where they have been, where they stand, and where they are going.

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