Windward Insider Blog

Employee Performance-Key Communication Points by guest blogger Karin Wills

Once again we welcome guest blogger Karin Wills. Karin is the founder of HR Concise, a human resources consulting firm that specializes in custom solutions for small to medium size businesses. We like Karin's writing because it is informative & concise. More about Karin, her books and website, below. Employee Performance-Key Communication Points There are two main categories of performance that take place in organizations:
  1. Actions that are specific to task -i.e.: quantity of output, quality of output, meeting deadlines, providing solutions to problems
  2. Actions that are specific to interpersonal behaviours-i.e. bullying, harassment, providing mentoring, sharing knowledge, supporting team members
The most effective method of communicating performance related information to employees is objectively: focus on whether information is accurate, reliable, and is presented in an unbiased manner. Objectively stated: "Delays in meeting project deadlines must be communicated to me prior to the deadline, so that we can discuss solutions to problems. This did not happen for yesterdays deadline. You need to update me now and ensure that you update in the required time frames in future." When we communicate performance information subjectively: a personal perspective, feelings, and beliefs, based on ones own mindset, it often leads to assumptions that are inaccurate. Subjectively stated: "You failed to update me that you would not meet yesterdays deadline; your poor communication skills are creating cost overruns and problems with customers." Performance evaluation and feedback occurs through regular discussion in a timely manner. Performance review is simply an administrative task that formalizes the content of the ongoing discussions. Focus On The Actions And Outcomes Actions, stating specifically what did or did not take place, and outcomes stating what was the result of the action that was or was not taken must be clear, specific and accurate. Specific facts help to stay focused. Avoid assumptions based on third party reports or an assumption of what took place based on the outcome. The discussion is not about you. Managers sometimes comment to employees that an action they completed "made my work easier" or "created stress for me" believing that the employees aim is to please their boss on a personal level. Employees want feedback that relates to how well they are meeting expectations specifically oriented to their responsibilities and in what ways their efforts contributed to the success of the organization. State clear expectations for moving forward when you are communicating performance related information that requires improvement: what must occur in the future, when it needs to happen by, and how will the employee know that success is reached. There is much debate as to whether it is more effective to discuss both positive and negative feedback in the same discussion. Performance feedback must take place as close to the action as possible and always on a regular basis. Focus on a specific situation and communicate information that pertains to that situation rather than 'saving' up for a formal meeting. Employees appreciate it when their manager acknowledges their work and provides assistance when things need to be improved if it is offered as close to the event as possible. Employees trust a manager that is clear and straightforward when providing performance related information. Clouding the message by sandwiching it in between "you did just great when you½" but " in future when this situation arises you must½" and another "but you know, that ½.you completed was well done". When an employee hears performance related information in this manner it reduces the strength of your message. Annual performance reviews are a summary of the regular discussions that take place throughout the year. There must never be a surprise in a year-end or mid-year performance review. Karin Wills founded HR Concise on the principle that being proactive in employee related actions is less expensive both financially and from a time perspective than dealing with issues after the fact. As your small business grows it is critical to have competent employees that are engaged in their work and that represent your business as you intend it to be represented. My philosophy is that the less bureaucratic and complex a human resources infrastructure is the simpler it is to manage it and thus stay focused on growing your business while maintaining positive employee relations. She is also the author of two books, Change & Resilience in Organizations and A Social Media Primer: The Starter Guide For People In Organizations. Visit HR Concise at You can contact Karin by email at:

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