Merge's Blog

Employee motivators that really work – timely performance feedback

Last week, in our video series on employee motivators that really work, I gave you strategy #19 – delegate effectively.  Today’s tip: offer timely performance feedback, both positive and negative.  Give your employees feedback about their performance that they can use to become better at what they do, and do so on a timely basis.  But what does timely mean?

Offer timely performance feedback

Timely means within 48 hours of you being made aware of the event.  This is important, in order for performance feedback to be effective, it must be delivered within 48 hours of the event that it relates to, or within 48 hours of you finding out about it.  So what happens if you are not going to have an opportunity to see your employee for another week?  Should you wait to deliver it face-to-face, in person?  Well ideally, in person is the best option, but if the feedback is positive, time is more important than face-to-face.  In order for positive feedback to be effective, it’s more important to deliver it on a timely basis, rather than in person.  So if you know you’re not going to get that face-to-face meeting, leave a voicemail or send a short e-mail acknowledging and thanking the person for their good work.

What if the feedback is negative?

What if the feedback is negative though?  Is time still more important than face-to-face if the feedback you want to offer the employee could be construed as negative in nature?  The answer to that question is “it depends.”  It depends on your good judgement.  Timely is still very important, but if the message has the potential to have a high emotional component to it, you may choose to delay your discussion until you can have a face-to-face, or at least a live phone call discussion.  Whatever, you do though, don’t let it go any longer than one week!

So under normal conditions, timely is within 48 hours; under exceptional circumstances, you can let it go to one week, but NEVER longer.

In my next instalment in this video series on powerful employee motivators, I’ll address one additional aspect of performance feedback, namely that in addition to being timely, it also needs to be constructive.  But until then, I’d like to know your thoughts on this strategy.  Please share your perspectives by commenting below.

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