Even senior leaders struggle with how to give constructive feedback.
And it is particularly stressful to give feedback to employees who aren’t usually called in to have a discussion about their performances; such is the case with your star employees or your top performers.
Top performers aren’t used to receiving criticism. And while the goal of constructive feedback is not to criticize, it is often received as negative.
Most employees dislike receiving feedback, and it’s because they feel that assessments may focus more on their weaknesses and highlight what needs improving. And top performers who have done relatively well often don’t need to be coached. So when they are called in to discuss their performance, it often becomes a stressful time for both the manager and the employee.
However painful, giving even your top performing employees feedback regularly is necessary for their growth. Your meetings with your top performers don’t need to be difficult. And while you may be tempted to bend the rules on your typical feedback process for your star employees, you wouldn’t be doing them any good in the long-run.
But do remember that giving constructive criticism to your top performers should be handled with care. And before you schedule a meeting with them, do your homework. Know all the facts and gather all the data necessary to support your feedback. And if you want your feedback sessions to be constructive and productive, make sure to do the following:
Show Gratitude for Their Contributions
Don’t assume that your top performing employee already knows they are a star. In the first place, they probably reached that status because of their integrity, work ethics, and humility. Show them gratitude for their efforts and praise them for their contributions.
When they know, they are appreciated, receiving constructive feedback won’t feel like a scolding but rather a suggestion on how to improve so they can continue delivering the top-notch performance that the organization values them for.
Help Them Determine How to Continue Improving
As their leader, it is your responsibility to help them achieve their goals by helping them recognize any blind spots or obstacles. Engage them in a conversation about their commitment to self-improvement and what they can do continue on that path.
Ask them what they’ve taken away from the constructive feedback they’ve just received and what they can do to move forward with it and improve.
Reflect on Their Career Path and Define Future Goals
Many employees have stated that they dislike receiving feedback because their managers only focus on the negative or keep bringing up faults from the past.
However, with your top performer, it may actually be a good thing to bring up past events especially to a time when they were doing well. Remind them of their impressive performance and growth. In this way, they’ll be more receptive to the constructive feedback knowing that you don’t define them by whatever incident you are discussing and that you are still looking at the bigger picture.
By asking them about their future goals with the organization such as a desire to someday take on a leadership role, you help them see that their future with the company is secure.
Ultimately, top performers don’t only need to hear positive feedback but constructive feedback as well. Avoiding it or denying them of it because you worry about hurting their feelings would be a disservice to them. It would stifle their growth and their opportunity to improve and unlock their potential.
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