People thrive on feedback, but it has to be the right type to spark good results. It must be clear and relevant; if not, you’re wasting your employee’s time and your own.

Tips for Clear Communication

Performance reviews require several different types of clarity. First, both you and the employee need to understand the worker’s job and how it contributes to the company. If you’re unclear about what your subordinate does, you can’t give useful feedback. If the individual doesn’t understand what he or she contributes, how can the work be valued? Once this is defined, you can focus on outlining the company’s expectations and providing constructive feedback.

Expectation and feedback clarity are essential parts of employee satisfaction. Personnel need to know what’s expected of them, or they’ll have no basis for good or poor performance. Likewise, they must clearly understand how their personal goals align with corporate goals.

Be clear and concise with your language. Often, reviews are far too broad and send mixed messages. For example, if an employee is told his or her communication skills need improvement, he or she may wonder exactly what you’re referring to. Perhaps your employee is wonderful with the written word and is articulate but has trouble confronting important issues. Address this in a way that’s easy to understand and gets right to the point. Be specific in your review, and use language that leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Expectation Clarity

Ensure your employees understand what they’ll be evaluated on. Ideally, your company should make the assessment forms available to everyone. Before the performance review, take the time to sit down with your workers and tell them what the performance categories are and what the different rating levels mean. This will improve the clarity of the entire process.

Ratings are important to an employee. For many, anything less than “exceptional” can be disappointing. When explaining the rating categories and their meaning, clarify how much progress is actually needed. It’s not difficult to get personnel from “room for improvement” to “above expectations,” as long as they know how long and how hard they have to work.

Feedback Clarity

Employees may not be able to live on appreciation, but concise feedback works wonders for keeping them around. Say exactly what an individual needs to do to improve his or her performance, and spend time with top performers to make their next year even better.

Make sure reviewees feel comfortable enough to provide feedback, as well. Just like you need to be clear with your employees, you need to encourage them to be honest with you. One of the most important ways to encourage clarity is to discuss what they need from the company. This will likely touch on management style issues, but you may also get to the root of what motivates them. With this information, you can incentivize employees to encourage positive behavior.

Using Transparency to Stay Positive

Clarity requires tact as well as honesty. A poor performance review will always take careful consideration, so be as gentle as possible while effectively communicating the problem. Staying positive is the best way to ensure suggestions for improvement are taken to heart.