8 Detailed Examples Of Giving Employee Feedback

Jacob Shriar

8 feedback examples blog coverWhether we realize it or not, we’re always giving or receiving feedback.

Sometimes it’s explicit, like in a one-on-one meeting, or it’s implicit, through our tone of voice and body language.

We might not realize the image we’re giving off, so we need to be mindful of this.

Also, when receiving feedback, it’s natural to take it as a personal attack and shut yourself off as a result. Instead, try to look at the feedback as a learning opportunity and grow from it.

Before I go through 8 examples of how to give feedback correctly, let’s look at some important things to keep in mind when giving employee feedback.

Tips for more effective feedback

It’s amazing how much psychology and subtleties are involved in giving feedback.

While some of this might seem like overkill, it’s really not. People are more sensitive than you might think, so it’s important to be compassionate when giving your feedback.

  1. Focus on the behavior, not the person

    This is probably the most important tip. The feedback shouldn’t be a personal attack, but it should be helpful and meant to get them to improve a certain behavior.

    One idea that works well for this is to explain how the behavior makes you feel. By doing this, it forces you to focus on the behavior.

    For example:

    I noticed you haven’t shown up for the last two team meetings. I’m worried that you missed some important information. Can we meet to discuss what you missed?

    This is better than saying something like, “You obviously don’t care about this team since you don’t show up for the meetings.”

  2. Remember the feedback is simply your opinion

    Sometimes leaders will say something like “they feel,” “we think,” or something along the lines of making it look like everyone agrees with your feedback.

    This is done to both make the message more powerful and shift the blame away from you.

    While this might seem like a smart idea in theory, you should use “I” instead. It will allow the employee to empathize with you (especially if you include how it makes you feel).

    Again, remember that feedback is simply your opinion.

  3. Don’t do the feedback sandwich

    Many people will tell you that the feedback sandwich works to soften the blow of feedback and that it’s a great idea.

    Don’t do it.

    It’s really not a good idea. A research paper called Tell Me What I Did Wrong1 looked at how different people responded to feedback, and it found that the feedback sandwich doesn’t work most of the time.

    From the research paper:

    The negative feedback is often buried and not very specific.

    A much smarter idea is to just be straightforward. Employees will appreciate your honesty.

    The problem is that people only hear the positive part of the feedback and stop listening once you’ve gotten to the negative part.

  4. Don’t forget the positive

    When feedback is mostly negative, studies have shown that it discourages future effort.2

    Remember to highlight and recognize good effort to keep employees motivated. Don’t use it as part of a sandwich, but keep in mind that positive efforts need to be noticed.

  5. Follow up

    This one might seem obvious, but remember to follow up with whomever you gave feedback to.

    The feedback is pretty pointless unless the employee improves and gets better at what they do, so make sure to follow up after a certain amount of time to see how it’s going. Offer your support throughout the entire process.

Examples of feedback given correctly

Here are 8 examples of employee feedback that you can start using today.

  1. An employee seems disengaged

    If an employee is disengaged, to figure out if something is bothering them you’ll want to:

    • Show them you’re noticing/looking out for them
    • Tell them how it makes you feel
    • Offer help

    Here’s what you can say:

    I noticed you don’t seem as happy as you usually do, and obviously that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.

    Is everything okay? I think if we met once a week to make sure everything’s going okay, you’d be much happier.

  2. An employee didn’t deliver a project on time

    While this sucks, there’s not much you can do about it. No point in getting mad, just make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Everyone needs to be accountable for their work, so when giving feedback about this, you’ll want to:

    • Highlight why this is important
    • Motivate them for next time
    • Offer ideas to improve

    Here’s what you can say:

    The project wasn’t delivered on time, do you have any idea why?

    As you know, we’re trying to get everything organized for the new website, so if you’re late on a project, it slows down the rest of the team.

    We’ll just make sure that for next time, you have more time and resources to finish on time. The new website is going to be sick! I think for next time, what you could do is schedule blocks of time maybe one day a week to make sure that you’re not overloaded with work towards the end.

    I tried that on my last project and it made a huge difference.

  3. An employee made a mistake with a client

    You want to do everything in your power to make sure this never happens again; the clients are too important.

    Mistakes happen, but everyone needs to have everything they need so that it doesn’t happen again. When giving feedback about this, you’ll want to go into detail explaining what happened so they’re better equipped:

    • Tell them not to worry; it can be fixed
    • Explain to them what happened so they understand for next time
    • Offer help

    Here’s what you can say:

    Not a big deal, but for next time, remember to update their billing information before you send them their access key.

    The way the access key number works is based on their billing info, so it’s super important. But don’t worry, we’ll just send them an apology email and do it manually right now.

    If you want to set up some time to go over how the software works, I’d be happy to show you; no problem.

  4. An employee was rude to a coworker

    Ideally, everyone on the team works well together and collaborates smoothly, but tension between coworkers is a natural thing that occurs often. You want to put a stop to this one quickly.

    • Explain why you’re talking to them and not the coworker
    • Don’t blame, listen to their side
    • Offer advice

    Here’s what you can say:

    Stacey asked me to have a chat with you about something you said earlier. I don’t think she was comfortable saying anything so I offered to do it.

    I’m curious, can you let me know what happened? I’m assuming it was a misunderstanding, but of course I want us all to get along.

    If it was me, I’d wait until the end of the day and then apologize to her, maybe ask to go eat lunch together to talk about it.

  5. An employee doesn’t get along with anyone

    This situation is a bit more troubling, but again, you’ll want to focus on the behavior rather than the person.

    • Be straightforward
    • Offer ideas for a workaround

    Here’s what you can say:

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve gotten a few complaints recently from some people on the team.

    I wanted to chat with you directly about it to see if there was anything we can do. It might be because you’re stressed, but I think when you raise your voice it sometimes rubs people the wrong way, which might be why they’re perceiving it as rude.

    I wonder if working from home one day a week might help with some of the stress that you’re feeling.

  6. An employee didn’t set good goals

    This is a tricky one, because you don’t want to totally demotivate them; they might be upset enough that they didn’t hit their goals. Remember to:

    • Be positive
    • Be specific about what they could have done better

    Here’s what you can say:

    Seriously, great job with your goals this quarter. It’s fine that you didn’t achieve all of them; I just thought we could go through them to see where you could have done better.

    I think your goals might be too aggressive. For next time, I would set only 2 goals instead of 5. That way, you’ll be able to focus exclusively on those 2.

  7. An employee doesn’t take initiative

    When you’re giving feedback about this one, remember to:

    • Tell them how it affects you
    • Offer help and advice

    Here’s what you can say:

    I notice that you’re not taking as much initiative as you used to be. That makes me feel like I did something wrong. Did I say or do anything recently to upset you?

  8. An employee has poor time management

    Time management is a tough thing to get right and is a constant process of optimization. But if it’s becoming a problem, then you’ll need to give some feedback. When you’re giving feedback about this one, remember to:

    • Tell them how it affects the team
    • Offer tips

    Here’s what you can say:

    I’ve been noticing that you weren’t able to manage your time for the last 3 tasks.

    Other people on the team weren’t able to get their work done and so it created some issues for other departments. We’ll figure out how to get it fixed for next time, though.

    I used to have that problem too, but then I discovered a tool to help with that. Personally, I use a tool called RescueTime; it’s been a life-saver.

    I recommend trying it and seeing how you can optimize your time.

Any tips for giving employee feedback?

Have any tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

Want more employee management strategies that get results? See 5 Ways To Facilitate Behavioral Changes Among Employees.

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How To Design Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Sam Yen

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review features a cover story on design thinking’s coming of age. We have been applying design thinking within SAP for the past 10 years, and I’ve witnessed the growth of this human-centered approach to innovation first hand.

Design thinking is, as the HBR piece points out, “the best tool we have for … developing a responsive, flexible organizational culture.”

This means businesses are doing more to learn about their customers by interacting directly with them. We’re seeing this change in our work on d.forum — a community of design thinking champions and “disruptors” from across industries.

Meanwhile, technology is making it possible to know exponentially more about a customer. Businesses can now make increasingly accurate predictions about customers’ needs well into the future. The businesses best able to access and pull insights from this growing volume of data will win. That requires a fundamental change for our own industry; it necessitates a digital transformation.

So, how do we design this digital transformation?

It starts with the customer and an application of design thinking throughout an organization – blending business, technology and human values to generate innovation. Business is already incorporating design thinking, as the HBR cover story shows. We in technology need to do the same.

Design thinking plays an important role because it helps articulate what the end customer’s experience is going to be like. It helps focus all aspects of the business on understanding and articulating that future experience.

Once an organization is able to do that, the insights from that consumer experience need to be drawn down into the business, with the central question becoming: What does this future customer experience mean for us as an organization? What barriers do we need to remove? Do we need to organize ourselves differently? Does our process need to change – if it does, how? What kind of new technology do we need?

Then an organization must look carefully at roles within itself. What does this knowledge of the end customer’s future experience mean for an individual in human resources, for example, or finance? Those roles can then be viewed as end experiences unto themselves, with organizations applying design thinking to learn about the needs inherent to those roles. They can then change roles to better meet the end customer’s future needs. This end customer-centered approach is what drives change.

This also means design thinking is more important than ever for IT organizations.

We, in the IT industry, have been charged with being responsive to business, using technology to solve the problems business presents. Unfortunately, business sometimes views IT as the organization keeping the lights on. If we make the analogy of a store: business is responsible for the front office, focused on growing the business where consumers directly interact with products and marketing; while the perception is that IT focuses on the back office, keeping servers running and the distribution system humming. The key is to have business and IT align to meet the needs of the front office together.

Remember what I said about the growing availability of consumer data? The business best able to access and learn from that data will win. Those of us in IT organizations have the technology to make that win possible, but the way we are seen and our very nature needs to change if we want to remain relevant to business and participate in crafting the winning strategy.

We need to become more front office and less back office, proving to business that we are innovation partners in technology.

This means, in order to communicate with businesses today, we need to take a design thinking approach. We in IT need to show we have an understanding of the end consumer’s needs and experience, and we must align that knowledge and understanding with technological solutions. When this works — when the front office and back office come together in this way — it can lead to solutions that a company could otherwise never have realized.

There’s different qualities, of course, between front office and back office requirements. The back office is the foundation of a company and requires robustness, stability, and reliability. The front office, on the other hand, moves much more quickly. It is always changing with new product offerings and marketing campaigns. Technology must also show agility, flexibility, and speed. The business needs both functions to survive. This is a challenge for IT organizations, but it is not an impossible shift for us to make.

Here’s the breakdown of our challenge.

1. We need to better understand the real needs of the business.

This means learning more about the experience and needs of the end customer and then translating that information into technological solutions.

2. We need to be involved in more of the strategic discussions of the business.

Use the regular invitations to meetings with business as an opportunity to surface the deeper learning about the end consumer and the technology solutions that business may otherwise not know to ask for or how to implement.

The IT industry overall may not have a track record of operating in this way, but if we are not involved in the strategic direction of companies and shedding light on the future path, we risk not being considered innovation partners for the business.

We must collaborate with business, understand the strategic direction and highlight the technical challenges and opportunities. When we do, IT will become a hybrid organization – able to maintain the back office while capitalizing on the front office’s growing technical needs. We will highlight solutions that business could otherwise have missed, ushering in a digital transformation.

Digital transformation goes beyond just technology; it requires a mindset. See What It Really Means To Be A Digital Organization.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

How Productive Could You Be With 45 Minutes More Per Day?

Michael Rander

Chances are that you are already feeling your fair share of organizational complexity when navigating your current company, but have you ever considered just how much time is spent across all companies on managing complexity? According to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the global impact of complexity is mind-blowing – and not in a good way.

The study revealed that 38% of respondents spent 16%-25% of their time just dealing with organizational complexity, and 17% spent a staggering 26%-50% of their time doing so. To put that into more concrete numbers, in the US alone, if executives could cut their time spent managing complexity in half, an estimated 8.6 million hours could be saved a week. That corresponds to 45 minutes per executive per day.

The potential productivity impact of every executive having 45 minutes more to work every single day is clearly significant, and considering that 55% say that their organization is either very or extremely complex, why are we then not making the reduction of complexity one or our top of mind issues?

The problem is that identifying the sources of complexity is complex in of itself. Key sources of complexity include organizational size, executive priorities, pace of innovation, decision-making processes, vastly increasing amounts of data to manage, organizational structures, and the pure culture of the company. As a consequence, answers are not universal by any means.

That being said, the negative productivity impact of complexity, regardless of the specific source, is felt similarly across a very large segment of the respondents, with 55% stating that complexity has taken a direct toll on profitability over the past three years.  This is such a serious problem that 8% of respondents actually slowed down their company growth in order to deal with complexity.

So, if complexity oftentimes impacts productivity and subsequently profitability, what are some of the more successful initiatives that companies are taking to combat these effects? Among the answers from the EIU survey, the following were highlighted among the most likely initiatives to reduce complexity and ultimately increase productivity:

  • Making it a company-wide goal to reduce complexity means that the executive level has to live and breathe simplification in order for the rest of the organization to get behind it. Changing behaviors across the organization requires strong leadership, commitment, and change management, and these initiatives ultimately lead to improved decision-making processes, which was reported by respondents as the top benefit of reducing complexity. From a leadership perspective this also requires setting appropriate metrics for measuring outcomes, and for metrics, productivity and efficiency were by far the most popular choices amongst respondents though strangely collaboration related metrics where not ranking high in spite of collaboration being a high level priority.
  • Promoting a culture of collaboration means enabling employees and management alike to collaborate not only within their teams but also across the organization, with partners, and with customers. Creating cross-functional roles to facilitate collaboration was cited by 56% as the most helpful strategy in achieving this goal.
  • More than half (54%) of respondents found the implementation of new technology and tools to be a successful step towards reducing complexity and improving productivity. Enabling collaboration, reducing information overload, building scenarios and prognoses, and enabling real-time decision-making are all key issues that technology can help to reduce complexity at all levels of the organization.

While these initiatives won’t help everyone, it is interesting to see that more than half of companies believe that if they could cut complexity in half they could be at least 11%-25% more productive. That nearly one in five respondents indicated that they could be 26%-50% more productive is a massive improvement.

The question then becomes whether we can make complexity and its impact on productivity not only more visible as a key issue for companies to address, but (even more importantly) also something that every company and every employee should be actively working to reduce. The potential productivity gains listed by respondents certainly provide food for thought, and few other corporate activities are likely to gain that level of ROI.

Just imagine having 45 minutes each and every day for actively pursuing new projects, getting innovative, collaborating, mentoring, learning, reducing stress, etc. What would you do? The vision is certainly compelling, and the question is are we as companies, leaders, and employees going to do something about it?

To read more about the EIU study, please see:

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @michaelrander

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About Michael Rander

Michael Rander is the Global Research Director for Future Of Work at SAP. He is an experienced project manager, strategic and competitive market researcher, operations manager as well as an avid photographer, athlete, traveler and entrepreneur. Share your thoughts with Michael on Twitter @michaelrander.

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube

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Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.