Communication and feedback is the key to a successful working environment.

Effective communication helps to engage staff and reduce turnover by:

  • allowing your staff the chance to learn and improve
  • creating opportunities for professional and personal development
  • boosting morale and loyalty
  • providing insights into how your business is running.

It's important that you don't only communicate negative feedback – make sure you acknowledge positive achievements as well.

Set up performance reviews

Regular staff reviews are a great opportunity to provide feedback. But you can also give important feedback day-to-day when it's appropriate. This way you can be confident your staff are aware of your expectations.

Use our HR policy manual template to outline your business's policies and procedures around communication and performance reviews:

How to deliver negative feedback

When giving feedback, there are some common mistakes that can end up making your relationships with your staff more difficult.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for those tough conversations with your employees.

Don't:

  • criticise someone publicly
  • yell, scream or get emotional
  • fluff around the issues
  • try to dump 12 months of feedback on someone in one meeting
  • sandwich negative feedback between 2 positive messages – they'll only remember the good.

Do:

  • give relevant, balanced and timely feedback
  • be sincere when giving positive feedback and direct when giving negative feedback
  • communicate face-to-face, and give them the chance to respond and steer the conversation
  • stay calm and professional
  • make it personal and focus on them
  • prepare a script of what you're going to say – be factual and use examples.

Communication tips for common scenarios

We've provided a list of common situations that business owners might face when dealing with their employees. If relevant, they should be a part of regular discussion when you review staff performance.

Addressing constant lateness

An employee is constantly late to work. You've spoken to them informally, but now you want to speak to them in a more formal setting.

To solve the problem:

  1. Organise a meeting with your employee.
  2. Go through the actual dates and times they were late – be specific.
  3. Ask them if there's a reason why they're continually late – listen and give them a chance to speak.
  4. Document the conversation to place in their file.
  5. Give them a copy and ask them to agree to try to be on time in future.

Congratulating a job well done

An employee has completed a major project and you want to give them positive feedback that reinforces this behaviour.

To give great feedback:

  1. Organise a meeting with your employee.
  2. Gather all the information about the project.
  3. Be generous and specific with feedback.
  4. Explain how their contribution has benefited the business.
  5. Be prepared and be sincere – practise if you need to.

Dealing with redundancy

You've had a downturn in work and need to make an employee redundant.

To best support the employee:

  1. Organise a meeting with your employee.
  2. Prepare a formal letter to help structure the conversation.
  3. Be prepared for the employee's adverse reaction.
  4. Listen to the employee if they want to vent or voice how they're feeling.
  5. Don't avoid the situation if they get emotional.
  6. Be professional and don't promise things you can't commit to.

Find out more about how to deal with redundancy and retrenchment, create a redundancy pack and calculate final payments.

Staff not working well together

Your team are having issues communicating with each other. You need to get them together to outline your expectations about how you want them to work together.

To deal with this issue:

  1. Organise a meeting for the whole team.
  2. Ask the team to voice their frustrations in a constructive manner.
  3. Document team responses and try and come up with fixes or recommendations.
  4. Get the team to agree on an action plan.
  5. Act as a facilitator for the session, but don't take over or railroad outcomes.
  6. Document the outcomes in your action plan – and make it happen.

Inducting a new staff member

You have a new staff member that you need to induct into your business.

For a great induction:

  1. Make time and be present – the new employee is probably nervous and your job is to make them feel at ease and welcome them.
  2. Be prepared and have a plan.
  3. Be friendly don't leave them by themselves.
  4. Incorporate our induction plan to help make it a smooth transition.