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Communicating at Work

A major challenge for a manager is effectively and frequently providing feedback to employees. If managers rely on organizational processes such as annual or bi-annual evaluations, they will quickly run into trouble. Employees need to know almost daily if they are doing what is expected. Here is an exercise I use to see if employees and managers are on the same page. Have employees write down the three most important things they do in their job. Then have them write down the most important behavior needed to be successful in their job. Next, have the supervisor write down the three most important things in the employees job and the most important behavior they expect from the employee. The results may surprise you. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking about the same job. If there is a great difference between the two, then how can evaluations, job performance, and even job descriptions be successfully used?

As a manager, you should ask yourself these questions daily:
1. Does the person know the critical duties of their job?
2. Do they know what my (the manager) priorities are?
3. Have I let the employee know if they are doing the job correctly?
4. Do the employees know what I look for in successful performance?

If the employees do not know the above, how can they have a chance to do their job correctly and well? It is surprising how many employees do not know they are doing something that provides a poor evaluation of their job. Also things change fast and what seems important one day may be shoved to the back burner the next. How are the employees going to know exactly what you need accomplished in such a changing environment if you do not tell them?

I am not talking about what you as a manager prefer. I am talking about what is needed for the person to be a success and do the job correctly. Be careful that personal preferences don't become your workplace standards.

How do you establish a good base of trust and frequent feedback that will be appreciated by the employees? Earn their respect. Provide more positive feedback than constructive feedback. Most people do nearly all their jobs well. It is usually only a small part of their job they need to improve. Yet, the only feedback they get is about what needs to be improved...which leaves the impression that you only pay attention to mistakes. If that arises, your feedback will not be appreciated. Providing mostly negative feedback will convert an employee who does nearly all their job well into an adversary who becomes unmotivated and may find ways to get even. It is critical to reward and recognize what people do well.

Managing others is not an easy job. It requires time, focus, and energy. Good Luck!