How To Give Critical Feedback To All-Star Employees

Jenna has always been a conscientious, hard-working employee.  However in recent months, her attention to detail has declined and she has used all of her vacation and sick days, even taking days off without pay after she had used all the hours from her PTO (paid time off) bank.  While preparing for her annual performance evaluation, you review last year’s record and see the notable decrease in the quality of her work.Feedback/Rating sheet with Fountain pen on white background

When you meet with Jenna privately to discuss her performance feedback, you notice she seems anxious and not like her usual congenial, optimistic self.  You ask if she has any questions and if she wants to provide any written comments regarding this years evaluation, looking down, she declines.  Before you proceed to the next step of asking her to sign and date the evaluation, you ask a question that many managers may avoid for fear of crossing an employer boundary.

“Jenna, something seems to be bothering you…you don’t seem like the same energetic and enthusiastic employee you were even a few months ago.  This performance review is not a reflect of your usual work, what could I or the company do to help you get back on track?”

Little by little Jenna shares with you the reason the quality of her work has declined and why she has spent so much time away from work. She appears visibly relieved as she shares examples of being on the receiving end of incivility from a new hire that was assigned as one of her team members.  This person regularly criticizes her work in front of other co-workers and interrogates her with questions about how she gets her ideas.  The tipping point was when the new hire took credit for one of Jenna’s projects. She didn’t want to say anything to you before now because she didn’t want to seem weak or as a complainer.  In the meantime, she was looking for another job.

A 2013 Harvard Business Review article, The Price of Incivility, cites that 63% of employees who are on the receiving end of incivility lost work time avoiding the offender, 66% said that their performance declined, 47% intentionally decreased time spent at work and 12% said they left their job because of uncivil treatment.

Can your organization afford to lose an all-star performer because of uncivil treatment?

As a manager going through your annual performance evaluations with your employees, open up a dialog to learn about your employees beyond their work performance.  Like the manager above, you might discover something you didn’t know and open possibilities to reduce the suffering of your employees and take necessary steps to intervene with incivility in your organization.

Make the conscious choice to take interest in your employees as a person and intervene to stop workplace incivility