5 Bad Reactions Employees Have When You Give Vague Feedback


One of the most challenging aspects of being a manager is effectively communicating with employees, especially performance feedback. If you’re a manager, the gifs below may seem like familiar reactions you’ve gotten from employees at one point or another in your career. If not, you’re either extremely good at what you do or perhaps a tad oblivious to the common blunders associated with being the leader. It’s time to improve how you deliver performance feedback. Check out these performance management mishaps and how you can improve them!

When your feedback is too vague, employees be like…


Vague feedback is a silent productivity killer. A manager may think she has been perfectly clear in her instructions, but too often than not, employees have unanswered questions they don’t bring up to their superiors. Why else do 50% of surveyed employees not know what is expected of them?

Tweet This: Any of these reactions look familiar during performance feedback? If so, you might have tweaks to make…

Here’s where you start: Rehearse your conversations. Be specific by providing specific examples of errors and triumphs and don’t forget to ask questions along the way to gauge their understanding and open up the floor for conversation.

When you’re not around enough…


Managers have a lot on their plate, sometimes doing the work of 3 or 4 people, but when the work gets in the way of the people part of the job, employee performance and morale decline. According to recent Gallup research, only 2% of employees who are ignored by their manager are engaged. The absence of managers proved detrimental to Zappos who lost 14% of their workforce after eliminating the role of managers in their company.


Here’s where you start: Be present. Even on large teams, managers can make the rounds and casually pop in on their team to let them know their leader is around. Make it a personal goal to be on a first name basis with everyone and try to have one-on-ones at least once a month.


Check out this Spring Cleaning Performance Management Checklist


When you only give negative feedback…


Employees know to expect negative feedback at a performance review, but when managers fail to outline an employee’s strengths as well, their morale and productivity will suffer. Managers who balance strengths-based feedback experience teams with higher levels of engagement and satisfaction. In fact, the 2015 Strengths @ Work Survey found 71% of surveyed employees with managers who can name their strengths feel, “engaged and energized,” by their work.

Tweet This: 71% of employees feeling engaged and energized by their work because managers do this:

Here’s where you start: Lighten up the mood by taking an interest in your employees’ strengths daily and reinforcing your comments during performance reviews. Showing recognition and appreciation for their hard work can go a long way in improving the performance management process.


When you only give positive feedback…


Here is where management gets tricky: knowing when positive reinforcement is too much or failing to provide constructive feedback. As much as employees want to be accepted by their superiors, they also want to improve in their work. Why else is career growth and development one of the biggest reasons people switch jobs?


Here’s where you start: Toughen up. Your employees will thank you for it. When you’re reviewing your performance standards, give yourself a healthy positive-to-negative feedback ratio to strive for. Building on strengths is just as important as improving weaknesses.


Read 4 Reasons Performance Review are Here to Stay


When there is lack of transparency…


Transparency has become a must-have in today’s workplace, but knowing when to use it is still highly variable depending on a company’s culture. According to NAS Recruitment, 96% of employees feel it’s important to work for a company that embraces transparency.

Tweet This: 96% of employees feel it’s important to work for a company that embraces this:

Here’s where you start: In some regards, you are bound by the instructions and policies your superiors give you, but when it comes to your own approach to management, be transparent about your process, expectations and your preferred means and styles of communicating. Open those lines of communication so things don’t fall through the cracks and employees don’t feel blindsided by changes.


Improve performance feedback by looking for these signs and reevaluating your own performance management process. Don’t wait another minute. Spring cleaning is here and it’s time to nip these common performance management mishaps in the bud!