Why do Managers shy away from giving performance feedback, both positive and negative?  Constructive feedback is crucial to career development, employee satisfaction, employee retention and employee motivation.  Employee feedback should be given as frequently as possible; both formally through the annual performance review forms and ensuing discussions, but also informally through ongoing conversations and coaching.  Managers really lose a golden opportunity to motivate their employees if they forget to praise an employee on doing a great job, or ineffectively praise the employee by providing no personalized examples of how that employee performed well.  On the other hand, there is nothing quite so disheartening as learning for the first time during an annual review that some aspect of your performance has been lacking for the past 6 months, but you were never notified.  Feedback gives employees the opportunity to change behavior and also to charge forward, but if they don't know what worked and what didn't, how can we expect them to perform to their full potential?

Giving feedback doesn't really need to be that scary – being prepared up front can take much of the fear out of the meeting and set the stage for a constructive and productive discussion.  Where you will be holding the discussion, what you will say and when to have the conversation are all important to the ultimate success of the message.  Feedback should not be a one-sided conversation; Managers should be prepared to allow the employee to provide their input into the situation and to actively listen as they do so and ask appropriate questions.

Remember, the goal of performance feedback and counseling conversations is always to work with the employee to improve their performance, in a dignified, constructive manner and to reward them for a job well done!