Most people’s reaction to their manager saying “Could you come here for a minute? I would like to give you some feedback” is not a positive one. That’s because many managers fail at one of the most basic (notice I did not say easy) of all leadership skills: delivering feedback.

Delivering employee feedback is a critical, but often elusive, skill for many managers. Nearly every leadership strategy has an element of feedback to it. Coaching, counseling, recognition and even terminations are all forms of feedback. Feedback, while basic, is an essential skill for effective leadership.

Oftentimes, the feedback process fails before it even begins because of the inability of the manager to clearly define and articulate proper behavioral expectations to the employee (see last week’s post). The expectation you’ve set becomes the standard by which you evaluate their performance. The difference between the optimal behavior and the observed behavior is the performance gap. Feedback is intended to close that gap.

Even when expectations have been effectively communicated, delivering meaningful, actionable feedback can be difficult. It takes courage, consideration, preparation and practice.

Next week, we will talk about some additional tips and guidelines for delivering feedback to your employees.