How often do you give your staff feedback? I hope it is on a very regular basis. The next thing to consider is whether you are using the best language during your feedback sessions.

It is absolutely vital that the people who work for you know how you feel about their performance — both the good and bad. This is important for your business, your success as a manager and for your staff members.

Research suggests that people want feedback in their job. They want to know when they are doing well and how they could be doing the job better. But how you give that feedback will determine whether it motivates or demotivates your staff members.

If you want one of your staff to continue a certain behaviour or to change their behaviour, then it is important to understand the difference between describing and judging behaviour.

Avoid judgements

Everybody has beliefs about how people ought to behave. These beliefs are valuable to you as a manager, but they can also create difficulties if you use them to judge people.

It is best to avoid judgemental statements such as, “Your behaviour was really irresponsible!” or “You have got the wrong attitude!”

You are not communicating anything to this person other than the fact that you are not pleased. Judgmental comments like this are unlikely to get a change in behaviour, because the person has not received any real information. It will also create resentment and misunderstanding.

Describe what you see and hear

When you describe performance, you focus on specific behaviour. You describe exactly what saw, or what you heard in terms that the other person can also see, hear and understand. You can then go on to discuss the change in behaviour that will improve the staff member’s performance.

It is also important to describe behaviour when you see or hear something you do like. It has more value and encourages the person to do it again.

Don’t merely say: “You’re brilliant at writing reports!” Instead, say: “I liked that report you produced; it was well laid out, clear and easy to understand!”

A motivated team

When you describe performance, you let the person know that you have put thought and effort into your communication, and you want him or her to understand exactly what you mean.

When you take time to do this, you are much more likely to get the behaviour that you would like to see. You will also create a motivational environment in which your staff members strive to succeed.