Even the best manager or supervisor sometimes struggles with the question of when and how to provide feedback to employees, especially when things are not going well. However, our teams perform best when we provide employees with the feedback they need to succeed and when accomplishments are regularly recognized. Frequent and regular interactions between supervisors and employees build stronger relationships as well as the manager’s credibility when a more difficult discussion becomes necessary. When in need of professional advice on HR-related matters, consider contacting The Personnel Perspective, one of the leading HR Consulting Firms Sonoma County, for expert guidance and vital support.

1. How does an employee succeed if they don’t know what is expected?

Beginning with a good job description sets the tone and expectations of the employee’s performance. An annual review of the job description is recommended. Discuss what has changed, the employee’s achievements and where there is room for improvement/development before the performance comes into question.

2. Coaching is not discipline.

Giving the employee an opportunity to improve is good business. Providing regular feedback gives the employee information they need to grow and provides managers with the peace of mind that they have done their best to help the employee meet the standards expected of the position. Feedback sessions should also include a record of the employee’s successes and the employee’s reciprocal feedback to the supervisor. The best of these conversations are a process of continual improvement and relationship building between supervisor and employee. A strong foundational relationship creates a safe harbor when employees have something to share or for leadership when it is time for a more difficult conversation.

3. Even a great employee may have an occasional slip.

In these circumstances a verbal warning or formal counseling may be enough to solve the problem. It is important to discuss any barriers or impediments to good performance during a counseling conversation. Why was there a slip? Is there anything that will help? The goal is to get things back on track and the tone of the meeting should be supportive to allow for course correction.

4. When is a corrective action important?

After a verbal counseling, repeating the same or similar errors indicates a pattern. Employee performance corrective actions (written warnings) are a manager’s communication tool to inform an employee when the standards of a position are not regularly met. At times, the corrective action plan accompanied with the warning is sufficient. However, performance corrective actions often include a performance improvement plan (PIP).

5. What to include in a PIP.

a. A full and detailed description of the problem, in writing. Provide the employee examples and dates of the incidents and or mistakes to support the description of issues with facts.

b. Establish measurable goals for improvement.

c. Create a PLAN of action with a defined improvement date of 30, 60 or 90 days, or in a period that supports the cyclical nature of the duties. Inform the employee HOW they might improve. Offer options of training and/or process improvement, guidelines for behavior improvement, mentorship or other tools to assist them achieve the goals set forth in the PIP.

d. Meet with the employee regularly (weekly) to document any improvements to the performance or if necessary, provide additional feedback or warning(s).

6. When it’s not enough.

Unfortunately, even after tools have been provided and the employee is given an opportunity to improve, it isn’t always enough. If the difficult decision is made to terminate, there is a documented path and a comfort in the knowledge that the employee has been provided an opportunity to improve.

The Personnel Perspective is a full-service HR consulting firm in Sonoma County specializing in human resources, leadership development and training, and recruiting. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, the firm has satellite offices in Napa, Bend and Boise. The firm’s core belief is that a company achieves organizational excellence through its people. Contact us to learn more: (707) 576-7653.