The annual review. The dreaded conversation for most employees. Most business owners and managers think of giving feedback in terms of the annual review. Most managers take this as the opportunity to unload all the good and bad that you have done throughout the year.

Good managers and business owners understand that giving feedback is a task done year-round. Reviews and criticism should be done in private, and praise done publicly. The feedback given should be in line with the expectations set out to the employee.

The cold hard truth is most business owners, managers, and leaders have not clearly set out expectations. With the lack of clear expectations, you are now holding a team member accountable for tasks that they may not understand is their job. The first step to giving feedback is, first and foremost, to make sure everyone is clear on their job duties and responsibilities. So if you haven’t ever set out expectations, then you need to go back to the drawing board and start there. You can’t hold someone accountable for tasks you haven’t explained properly or made clear that are a part of their job.

When you do give feedback, it should be on an ongoing basis. The purpose of feedback is to help improve the team member’s performance. Meeting with team members regularly ensures you are able to provide the feedback necessary. Here are four behaviors you can engage in to ensure the feedback loop is positive for all parties:

1. Focus on the behavior and actions, not the person.

Don’t show a lot of emotion. Be consistent in how you speak to them as your tone and body language communicate something as much as your words.

2. Be honest and direct.

Don’t beat around the bush. If you beat around the bush, they may not understand what the issue is.

3. Ensure the conversation is constructive and positive.

Brainstorm ideas to help the individual improve. Even if it is a behavior that needs to be changed, you can keep it positive.

4. Make it a conversation, not a monologue.

This is a chance to provide feedback but also to hear them out as to why they are not completing their job. Engage in dialogue. Don’t talk to them the entire meeting.

The point of feedback is to give both praises and to help them see where they missed the mark. It may be providing the solution or you may need to brainstorm the solution. Always ask them how you can help them achieve their metrics.

When you engage in ongoing dialogue and feedback, it provides the chance for a continuous improvement loop for your team and the organization. Although the annual review is necessary, there should be ongoing conversations around job roles and tasks, not once a year.

I strategically help business owners develop their leadership competencies. We implement ways to be more strategic to increase revenue and develop workflows that affect the bottom line. In the end, we create work-life integration so they live a life they love.

Own a business? Sign up for your own First Steps Appointment. We can talk about the first steps to creating a strategy based around the pain points of your business. Sign up here.

Stephanie German is a business strategist, adjunct professor, and speaker. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and loves giving back to her community in a variety of ways. When she’s not coaching clients or writing about leadership, Stephanie is usually headed to the mountains or the beach with her family, drinking savory wine, or working on the latest project with her husband. She lives in Fresno, California with her husband Blake and her three spunky daughters, Cara, Kinsey, and Peyton. She is the best-selling author of So Your Boss Can’t Lead?

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