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Any manager will tell you that the hardest part of the job performance criteria is giving employee feedback - and even according to a Harvard Business Review Case Study.

Trying to maintain the fine line between constructive criticism and destroying someone’s confidence is a tough challenge, and the balance of employee engagement depends on the employee feedback process.

Part of that challenge is finding an appropriate reward and recognition program to motivate everyone.

Employee feedback process: Mistakes to avoid

If you have employees under you, here are the five most common mistakes you need to avoid and how managers can improve employee satisfaction with the feedback process.

1. Not giving ANY employee feedback

Managers are responsible for at least 70% of the variance in their employees’ engagement. | Gallup

Perhaps the idea of sitting down and going through an employee’s performance evaluation is a task you can’t face. Perhaps you don’t have the time or want to avoid a potential conflict.

The problem with not giving employee feedback is that you lose staff confidence. It also deters the possibility of setting improvement goals for your individual employees.

If you don’t have time for a one-to-one sit down, then, instead, take time to create an accurate and clear email. In a performance review process, lay out everything you need your employees to do to improve performance while praising everything they’re doing right.

2. Recognition isn’t part of the rota

Companies that implement regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. | HR Daily Advisor

If employees don’t know when it’s a bonus time or approaching a mid-year review, it makes them nervous and confused. Not understanding when or how you are being evaluated and ultimately rewarded is unsettling and unhelpful for everyone.

“Making sure that you have a regular schedule for all of the above is fair and consistent. It will help organize you, your business goals, and the projects being carried out by your workforce. Set time aside to talk one-to-one shows employees that their voice counts. It has the added bonus of being able to deal with potential issues before they become gaping problems”, - explains Dean Bennett, a Recruitment Manager.

3. Top-heavy recognition

Only 8% of companies believe their performance management process is highly effective in driving business value. | Deloitte

While praise from the boss or even the boss can be very satisfying, if this is the only recognition being used, you’re going to end up with an unhappy workforce.

Giving colleagues the chance to recognize, praise, and reward each other’s work is good on many levels. Firstly, it gives employees the power to make decisions, and it also shows that those decisions are respected and acted upon.

“Remember that this type of recognition should not be generic but recognize specific achievements such as reaching project objectives and so on. All of this comes together to give a sense of unity among colleagues, build friendships and drive morale up through the roof”, - says Rodney Vaz, an HR Manager at Reviewed and Writing populist. You can also use tools that enable peer-to-peer review like Empuls.

4. Making money the only reward

An effective monetary reward system is a standard tool for recognizing employees and is important in most industries.

After the annual review, the annual bonus shows staff you know their worth and value their input, but there are other reward schemes to consider.

Extra vacation days, concessions such as a subsidized gym membership, or a great health care plan can also be leveraged to show staff value.

In many ways, the more creative you are with monetary alternatives, the more staff will know that you’ve looked at what motivates them personally; they’ll appreciate the extra thought.

The key is to set these extra rewards at just the right level. If the reward system is a piece of cake, winning them will not be seen as special enough.

If they’re made too hard, employees will lose motivation and feel they’re out of reach. It’s a difficult act to balance, but the difference it can make when you get it right can be enormous.

Distributing badges and having an employee leader board could be other non-monetary rewards, which are a big pull factor for high employee engagement.

As a bonus, you can improve employee engagement and productivity with the right reward system.

5. Being self-referential

92% of employees believe that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance. | Harvard Business Review

If you constantly talk about how you would do something when giving negative feedback, you could risk making the employee resentful, which never helps the employee's engagement causes.

As a bonus, they might not learn what they need to do to fix their mistakes and improve their behavior. You could also be making the mistake of boring them with unnecessary details of your own success, which probably has nothing to do with their improvement.

Be mindful of your words and focus on giving them the pointers about their own improvement - and if appropriate, include some elements of your story into the review.

6. Talking only about what is not working

98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback. | Gallup

Most employees fear their reviews because bosses constantly talk about what isn't working when they should be focusing on what is working and providing the right support to inspire improvement in the employee’s personality traits and employee engagement.

Focusing only on the negatives is not constructive, and it doesn't change anything - it can only add to customer animosity and prevent them from advancing. A company shouldn't have a blame culture but rather an environment that supports growth and provides the right facilities and resources for that change.

7. Thinking you know what makes staff motivated

4/10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback. | Forbes

While it’s true that motivational tools like staff competitions can act as great incentives for improving performance, not everyone enjoys or engages with the same things.

For one, a simple word of praise or encouragement will have the same effect as another winning a leader board. The key to a serene employee feedback process is getting to know them personally and figuring out what makes individuals motivated and happy.

Not everything has to be a competition or a challenge; sometimes, a softer approach is the way forward. By instituting a blanket reward system, you run the risk of employees building a sense of isolation. It also causes resentment and failure to engage with your organization and its objectives.


If you recognize your management style in some of these pitfalls, then now is the time to take affirmative action.

If you can address some of these issues or, better still, avoid them completely then employee engagement, evaluation, employee feedback process, and recognition can only lead to positive results.

Consistent and open communication between all levels of your organization has tangible benefits for everyone. Your business can only go from strength to strength with a strong and motivated workforce behind you.

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Freddie Tubbs

Freddie Tubbs is content writer and contributor.