Supervisor Skills: How to Provide Effective Year-End Feedback to Employees

Supervisor Skills: How to Provide Effective Year-End Feedback to Employees

As we approach the holiday season, it's also time to prepare for year-end feedback. While your employees must receive this feedback, many supervisors dread the task and will often put it off. Year-end or performance reviews are often a touchy subject because critique and criticism are potentially involved, which can be intimidating. Often, supervisors will try to shy away from conflict, but feedback is an essential part of managing and supervising others. Year-end feedback allows you to highlight the tasks your employees flourish in. The combination of both acknowledgment and constructive criticism can help to motivate your employees. Let's dive deeper and understand how to make the year-end feedback process seamless, effective, and enjoyable. Here are five tips for a successful year-end performance review:


1. Take Detailed Notes on Employee Performance

Before your one-on-one meeting with the employee, you should have been tracking and collecting detailed notes about each employee's performance. These notes should include areas around productivity, teamwork, organization, and interpersonal skills. Supervisors often oversee more than one employee, and keeping detailed notes enables you to track specific thoughts and comments of each individual. If not, you will likely either forget key pieces of information or confuse employees for one another.  

As you prepare for the meeting, you can refer to these notes and help determine if the employee understands the job. Are they meeting expectations? Does this employee want to grow within the organization? Questions like these will help shape the conversation with the employee. Everyone is different, but you must figure out the best way to compile detailed notes on your employees in preparation for these performance reviews.


2. Stay on Topic

Once the meeting has started, you must stay on topic and get to your point. Often, supervisors will try to couple criticism with positive feedback. This technique is known as "sandwiching" but comes highly discouraged. Generally, employees can see through this tactic when used to deliver negative feedback or criticism. In providing feedback this way, a supervisor dilutes the positive feedback. As much as it might not feel good at the moment when you need to deliver criticism, be direct and to the point. It's important to differentiate the positives and the negatives so that each point is clearly understood and acknowledged instead of simply watering it down.


3. Highlight Opportunities for Improvement

When you talk to an employee about their performance, there will likely be both good and bad information relayed. It's important that when you share critical information or areas needing improvement, you also take time to talk with the employees about how they can improve those areas. Be specific and ensure that the employee understands that you will help guide the way. As a supervisor, your goal is to make your team stronger. Providing guidance and coaching in the areas where employees need it the most will create a stronger, more productive, and more effective team.


4. Create a Two-Way Dialogue

 Performance reviews and feedback cannot be a one-sided conversation. In many cases, employees are asked to evaluate themselves before meeting with their supervisor. This information is valuable. Take time to understand why the employees selected what they did and why they feel like they do. Throughout the conversation, make sure you are asking the employees questions so that you can understand their perception of their performance. A great question to ask the employee would be, "As your supervisor, what can I do to help you improve?" However, you must ensure your expectations are understood, and the job is clearly defined. Employees can only ask for help if they know where the help is needed. 


5. Have Follow-Up and Proceed with the Next Steps

These performance reviews should not end abruptly. Ensure that the employee knows what the next steps will be. How will you reconnect and follow up on the needed steps for coaching and guidance? When will the next one-on-one feedback/review session occur? Consider not having a review solely on an annual basis. By communicating frequently with your team members, you can create a less stressful end-of-the-year performance review.  

Effective communication is essential during this last step. Supervisors must assess and provide feedback to employees regarding their strengths and weaknesses. No matter what your organization calls the process (e.g., performance reviews, year-end feedback, assessments, evaluations), this time spent with the employees allows you to reflect on an individual's work and help set goals for improvement. Hopefully, you will use some of these tips as you begin the process of year-end feedback with your employees. Refine and add to these tips as needed so that your year-end performance reviews help to foster more successful employees as well as more productivity and efficiency within your organization.

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About the Author

Abby Galjour joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in January 2020 as a Business Development Manager for AEU LEAD®. Prior to joining AEU, Abby was with DuPont Sustainable Solutions for 15 years where she worked with a variety of organizations to build sustainable employee safety solutions and helped employees assess risk and understand that safety is ingrained into everything they do. Abby received her B.B.A in both Marketing and Management from Radford University.

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