The “no cost” way to improve staff performance

Can you really improve employee performance without spending a penny? Yes you can, if you give effective feedback. The sceptics among you no doubt me but what have you got to lose by trying?

When do you give feedback?

Children constantly get feedback at school.  Teachers mark their work, hold parents’ evenings and write reports. I’m not suggesting you get the red pen out but regular feedback can deliver great results.

Think about it. How is your employee expected to know what they are doing right or wrong if no one tells them? Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Acknowledge what someone does well and they will want to do it more often. Tell them how to do things better and they will make less mistakes. No one should get to the end of their probationary period and be surprised at the outcome.

You might think you don’t have time to do this.  How much time do you spend on recruitment or putting problems right?

How do you give constructive feedback?

Feedback should not be given in an ambush by the kettle. It will have more meaning if you sit down to a planned meeting. Tell them when the meeting will be and that you will also ask for their feedback. After all, a new joiner may have great ideas of how you can make things better.

If you have a difficult subject to tackle, you may find that they also realise there is an issue. Ask them open questions that may help to open up the subject such as:

  • What do you feel you need to improve upon?
  • What do you find most difficult in your job?
  • What help do you need from the Company?

If you have positive feedback to give, make it specific where you can otherwise your employee might not take it in. For instance, you’re impressed by the way your employee dealt with a complaint. A simple “thank you “ will have little long-term effect and is a missed opportunity. Instead say something like “thank you for the way you dealt with that customer. I thought the way you did ABC was really good”. Your employee will realise you truly saw what happened and appreciated it.


Setting Targets

Setting targets is a good way to end the meeting on a positive note.   Targets should be:




Realistic and



For instance, you set a target of “improving sales”.  Would you be happy if they improved sales by £1?  A better target would be “to increase sales by 10% on XYZ product within 6 months”.  This has the added benefit of allowing the employee to clearly see for themselves what they need to achieve and whether they are achieving it.

Feedback can be incredibly motivating if delivered in the right way.  It shouldn’t just be for new members of staff either.  If you need any help in how to deliver feedback, please contact me.

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