Employee Feedback: Your Key to Satisfied Employees

By Timothy I. Thomas

Tim Thomas

Timothy I. Thomas is the President and CEO of Makarios Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and business consulting firm. Makarios Consulting specializes in interactive training and one-on-one coaching in progressive organizations in order to equip and empower their leaders to maximize their own leadership skills and inspire others to accomplish extraordinary business results. Timothy Thomas is the author of Creating All-Star Performers: The Power of Effective Feedback, now available for immediate download at

Suppose you had your choice of three meal plans for one week … which would you choose?

Plan #1: No food from Sunday morning through Saturday afternoon. But for Saturday dinner, you must eat a lavish 5-course meal.

Plan #2: Each day you can have donuts for breakfast, your choice from the company’s snack vending machine for lunch, and greasy fast food on the way home.

Plan #3: Each day, you can have a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

With Plan #1, you’ll starve. Plan #2 will leave you unhealthy and fatigued. Only with Plan #3 will you have energy and strength to work and live – and enjoy both.

Just as your body needs regular, nutritious feeding to be healthy, your employees need regular, effective feedback to reach their highest potential. Yet in the corporate environment, leaders often feed their employees on the equivalent of Plan #1 or Plan #2 … and then wonder why they fail to perform.

Plan #1 looks like this in the business world: I’m not going to give you any feedback (positive or negative) all year. At your yearly performance appraisal, you’ll have no idea what I’m going to say. I’m either going to praise and affirm you, or I’m going to run roughshod over you … regardless, you’re going to get a year’s worth of feedback in one sitting. I hope you can stomach it. See you next year.

Plan #2 isn’t much better: I’ll talk to you throughout the year, but my comments won’t really be helpful. I’ll be general in what I say so you can’t pin down specific behaviors I like or don’t like. I’ll attack your personality rather than correcting your work habits. I’ll accuse you with huge sweeping statements. Your yearly performance appraisal will be more of the same, leaving you somewhat queasy and nauseous, and uncertain how you can possibly find the strength to go on. Or even uncertain as to why you should.

You can see how both Plan #1 and Plan #2 leave employees edgy, unmotivated, and demoralized. Put simply, performance cannot improve on this kind of diet.

So how do you implement a healthy Plan #3 feedback approach?

First, you need to be aware. As an executive, manager, or supervisor, you have to be informed and knowledgeable about what your staff is doing and how they are performing on an individual level.

Second, you need to be proactive. In the same way that eating well takes effort to plan and shop and cook, providing effective feedback also takes a proactive mindset. You must look for specific opportunities to affirm or correct behavior. You have to provide feedback in a timely manner. You need to set up regular times for manager-employee dialogue throughout the year. It has been said that “Nothing in a yearly review should come as a surprise.”

Third, you need to be skilled. Listen carefully here: Just as people aren’t born knowing how to cook, giving feedback effectively is not an innate skill. It must be learned. Healthy feedback starts with a solid, specific, descriptive, non-judgmental feedback statement. You have to know when and how to give reinforcing feedback vs. redirecting feedback. You must understand how to follow through to ensure real, lasting change.

The result? It’s simple – and quantifiable: Employees who work for aware, proactive, skilled leaders respond with improved performance, increased communication, and soaring job satisfaction. Isn’t that worth time and effort on your part?

Don’t starve your employees. Don’t give them fast food. Feed them what they need – every day.

© 2008 Timothy I. Thomas
Article Source: