Supervisor & Employee Guide
October Review April
Central Michigan University
Table of Contents
Part 1: Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback 3
• Defining Feedback
• Giving Effective Feedback
• Receiving Feedback
Part 2: The Performance Evaluation Meeting 6
• Preparing for Final Evaluation Meeting
• Running the Performance Evaluation Meeting
Part 3: Next Steps 8
• Completing the Performance Evaluation Form
• Follow with Developmental Feedback
Appendix A: Tips for Communicating 10
• Tips for Writing Evaluations
• Tips for Effective Communication
• Tips for Giving Feedback
Appendix B: The Five T’s 12
About the Guide
This guide is intended to be a reference to help you get the most out of the university’s
performance management program. You will find useful information about performance
management, giving and receiving feedback, guidelines for completing the year-end evaluation
and – most importantly – tips for coaching and communicating this process with your peers and
The previous session focused on the development of employee objectives, responsibilities, values
and the criteria they will be measured against. At this session we will focus our discussion on how
both employee and supervisor can most effectively give and receive feedback and how each
should prepare for the year-end evaluation meeting.
PART 1: Giving & Receiving Effective Feedback
(Throughout the Assessment Cycle)
As Central Michigan University moves toward a more goal-driven and competency-based
organization, the importance of giving timely and honest feedback will only increase. Receiving on-
going feedback is how employees come to understand how they contribute to the organization, and
how they can learn to continuously increase the value of that contribution. Feedback is a key part
of Performance Management. CMU wants all its employees to feel comfortable seeking, receiving,
giving and utilizing feedback.
Contrary to traditional theory, there is no such thing as positive or negative feedback. Feedback is
simply information. It is inherently neutral. Ideally this information is shared openly, individual to
individual, and not received second hand or from “behind-the-back” conversations. Hopefully this
information enables us to improve our effectiveness and satisfaction while increasing our
contribution to the organization.
So, rather than think in terms of “positive” or “negative” feedback, let’s define the two types of
feedback differently. Both types have potentially powerful effects.
• Reinforcing feedback tells us what we are doing well and what we should continue to do.
• Redirecting feedback helps us identify areas we can change and improve in order to be more
effective and have the greatest impact on the job.
We all appreciate reinforcing feedback. It may make us uncomfortable, but we like it. Redirecting
feedback on the other hand is more difficult to accept. But, both types of feedback are important in
helping us improve our contribution and ourselves. Doing work without any form of feedback
leaves us without the framework for real, meaningful growth, development, and increased
Giving Effective Feedback
The intent of giving feedback should always be to help people improve personally and/or
professionally. Be aware that giving feedback impacts a person’s self-esteem. Egos are involved.
Be especially aware that redirecting feedback must be done to address the issue in a helpful way,
without personally attacking the receiver. The focus of giving feedback should be on job-related
behaviors - not personal values, beliefs or assumed motives. As you begin to provide on-going
feedback you will learn how to give redirecting feedback differently to each employee based on
their personality, preference and work style.
General Guidelines for Giving Feedback:
1. Make sure the feedback is relevant to the individual’s job. You should give feedback to
someone on issues that are critical to the individual’s success and the priorities of their job. In
other words don’t be nit-picky about irrelevant issues.
2. Be direct and discuss observed behavior. Stay with your own observations and perceptions.
Hearsay is weak and subject to distortions. If someone tells you something about someone
else, encourage him or her to talk directly to that person rather than to you.
3. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. State what you observed the person doing or saying,
without editorializing or making a value judgment. For example don’t say, “Your presentation
was poor!” Instead say, “To me, you seemed unsure of yourself during your presentation this
morning.” Avoid focusing on the receiver’s character or personality.
4. Be specific rather than general. The more concrete detail you can provide the better. If you
don’t provide specific detailed examples, the receiver will surely ask you for them. Building on
the presentation example, you might say, “I noticed you hesitated before the beginning, and
there were two places where you seemed to get your slides in the wrong order.” (See Example A)
Example A - Value Added Feedback 5.F
FEEDBACK VALUE ADDED FEEDBACK
Thanks Thanks for your help in sorting through the logistics of the problem.
Great Job Great Job – Your responsiveness to the student was caring and helpful.
This isn’t what This isn’t what I wanted. The report needs to specify the detail to be
I wanted useful and an executive summary would be helpful.
Good work Your attention to detail was thorough and the executive summary page
was very helpful. Good work.
the needs of the receiver, not your needs as sender. Try to see the situation from the
perspective of the receiver. Your full intent needs to be for the benefit of the recipient. Thus, a
comment like, “I was embarrassed by your presentation.” is an irrelevant comment.
6. Be as timely as possible. Feedback that is given out of context is of little value. State your
observations as close to the occurrence of the actual event as possible.
7. Be sure to give the proper balance of reinforcing and redirecting feedback. Over time a person
should have the proper amount of reinforcing and redirecting feedback based on whether they
are contributing appropriately or not. For specific on-going conversations it is best to give either
reinforcing or redirecting feedback so that there is no ambiguity in your expectations. If either
party feels any uncertainty about what outcomes are desired, the employee should summarize
their understanding of the conversation and submit it to their supervisor. This will help both
parties feel comfortable that they understand one another.
8. Use “I” statements for redirecting feedback. Using “I” statements can help alleviate the
discomfort of giving redirecting feedback because they focus on the behavior and not on
judging the person. “I feel___________ when ____________ because __________”.
9. Give feedback privately. If you are giving reinforcing feedback and the recipient is not
embarrassed by public reinforcement, it may be appropriate to give feedback publicly. As a
supervisor, consider the impact this will have on others in your group. Will they be motivated or
demotivated by the public acknowledgement? Will you have equal opportunities to “praise” the
When to seek feedback
• Developing your annual goals. People usually resist feedback for two reasons. First is the
• New job assignment. issue of risk: Do I believe that the benefit outweighs the
• New to the organization. risks? Second is the issue of trust: Do I trust others to give
• In times of conflict. me helpful feedback? Human beings are risk takers by
• Developing a new skill or behavior nature. We have an inner drive to learn, which pushes us
related to a competency. to take risks. Yet, despite our determination to learn and
• Before or after presentations. grow, it’s still difficult to open ourselves to feedback.
• When interacting with others. Feedback is empowering. It puts us in control of our
• As a reality check on your growth and development in a way nothing else can. It
contributions to the organization gives us a clear picture of how others see us and gives us
during the year and at the the information and power to act, to change.
Who should you ask for feedback? Keep in mind that
some sources will be more helpful than others. In general
you should ask people that work closely with you, who will
provide the feedback, whose judgment you trust, and who can provide you with different
perspectives. Soliciting feedback from your “buddies” will not give you a clear, realistic picture of
your strengths and weaknesses. Other potential providers include: your supervisor, direct reports,
peers or colleagues both inside and outside of CMU, team members, and stakeholders.
While it may sound simple, the ability to receive feedback is difficult and complex. Most of us have
some emotional reaction to any feedback. Redirecting feedback can elicit a strong emotional
response. In fact, research has shown that we tend to progress through a predictable cycle of
emotions upon receiving redirecting feedback. This process is abbreviated by the acronym SARA.
S.A.R.A. Process Most of us can identify with this cycle whether we are
S urprise or shock. Unexpected input unexpectedly praised in front of others or are given some
from others prompts this surprise strong redirecting feedback in private. One of the keys is to
reaction realize that the cycle exists, and to be sure to progress
A voidance, annoyance, or anger.
through it. The best outlook is to be proactive and
Feeling bothered, discomfort and even
anger are the next step responsible, and to use the information for growth and
R esistance, or rejection. change.
Characterized by rationalizing or not
accepting the feedback Another key is the recognition that other’s “perceptions are
A cceptance. Admitting that the reality”. This simply means that if people think you behave in
feedback is someone else’s valid a certain way, then his/her interaction with you will be driven
perception from this perception.
If you really want to get honest feedback from others, you need to make giving feedback easy and
pleasant. Be sure to listen. Be sure you ask questions to help you understand his/her point of view
(even if you don’t agree). Explore options and come to agreement. Secure his/her support in your
action plans. And lastly, be sure to again thank the person for their honest input, their coaching,
and commitment to address the issue.
Managing Employees at Various Levels of Performance
The best supervisors adapt their style based on the level of experience, personality, learning
styles, motivational needs and performance of their employees. Following are suggestions for
managing employees at various levels.
Employees whose employees whose
Employees whose performance meets performance did not meet expectations
Address problems early on.
Assess performance and discuss the impact
Thank the employee for all of his or her
and consequences of not meeting
contributions during the year.
Employees whose performance objectives.
Motivate the employee to continue
Listen to the employee to get at the source
exceeds expectations achieving results.
of the issue – remember the five “T’s”. (See
Positively reinforce behavior by giving Provide opportunities to challenge the
feedback. employee to keep skills current and/or
Ask the employee for ideas to improve
Offer development opportunities, e.g. improve.
working on task force, training others, Provide positive feedback as events occur
Set a corrective action plan to help the
attending meetings in your place, etc… to encourage similar performance.
employee get on track.
Encourage the employee to work on his or Help the employee understand what it
Keep documentation (favorable and
her own, seeking input only when would take for him or her to perform at a
necessary. higher level.
Follow up to reward improvement or
Ask about their career interests. Help the employee understand that a
continue to help the employee improve.
Show support in helping them achieve their evaluation of “met expectations” means
Show support in helping them achieve their
career goals. they are valued employees and positively
contribute to the University.
If the employee still is not performing,
Show support in helping them achieve their
consult the Employee Relations & Training
department at 989-774-6447 to discuss
PART 2: The Evaluation Meeting
(End of the Assessment Cycle)
In addition to the ongoing feedback you give your employees throughout the year, the end-of-the-
year appraisal meeting will mean a great deal to your employees. Following are suggestions for
getting the most out of this discussion.
General Evaluation Meeting Steps:
Steps Objectives Skills/Techniques
Step I Relieve any tension or anxiety
Be suitably social.
Get cooperation and participation.
Start the Meeting Set task oriented climate.
Spell out purpose…to appraise and set stage
for future goal setting.
Establish the benefit from the appraisal.
Outline plan for the meeting.
Employee gives candid appraisal of
Get the own performance and reasons
Take one goal or objective at a time.
employee’s view Focus first on achievement of goal.
expectations were or were not met
Focus next on causes for both met and not
met goals…ask what employee did, what
supervisor did, and the impact of
Throughout; probe, listen, summarize.
Do not pass judgment – focus on the job.
Step 3 Supervisor gives reactions to
First, tell employee where you agree.
Explain employee’s appraisal and then
Next, explain where you disagree.
gives own appraisal.
supervisor’s view Finally, if needed, present additional data
about supervisors appraisal.
Step 4 Reach mutually acceptable
First, use reflective statements to
conclusions to disagreements.
Resolve Work on one disagreement at a
acknowledge and diffuse emotions.
disagreements Clearly state the disagreement and both
Discuss both positions, starting with the
Reach final conclusion.
Step 5 Mutually work out and agree to final
Work to align employee’s appraisal with
Work out the final Prepare for the final written
appraisal Ask employee to summarize.
Preparing as a Supervisor
• Organize the form and your examples of the employee’s progress.
• Go over past performance information. Review calendars, notes and other documentation that
will help you remember all of the employee’s relevant performance, not just the last couple of
• Be familiar enough with your ratings and comments to talk about them without reading them.
• Formulate tentative improvement and development plans.
• Give the employee at least two weeks notice before the appraisal meeting.
• Set aside private time and space
o Be sure to allow for at least a one-hour meeting with the employee.
o Find a closed office or private space for the meeting
o If possible, do not accept interruptions
• Get the employee involved
o Ask the employee to organize the form with their own examples and achievements.
o Ask the employee to come to the meeting prepared for the discussion.
Running the Performance Evaluation Meeting
1. Start the Meeting on a Positive Note
• Put the employee at ease. Move to a table or sit in a chair next to the employee. Do not sit
behind your desk.
• Start the meeting by talking about the benefits of the evaluation process and how this meeting
is a good opportunity for both of you to discuss successes and positive events from the prior
year, and to plan for next year.
• Ask the employee for input first – (Example C) Example C – Discussion Questions to
• Discuss accomplishments and strengths first. Gain Employee Feedback:
2. Discuss Achievements against Targets • Overall, how successful have you been at
• Review each Performance Objective and Value meeting your performance expectations?
and your assessment of each. • What performance expectations have you
• Discuss your assessment throughout the met or exceeded?
meeting, as you get to each section of the form. • What measures support this?
• Restate the expectations from the beginning of • What performance expectations have you
the cycle and provide examples of the not met?
employee’s performance and to what extent • What would you like to do better on your
performance exceeded, met, or did not meet job?
• What new duties would you like to do?
• What skills did you improve or acquire this
3. Use Active Listening Skills • How did the development plan assist in this
• Ask questions to gain understanding skill acquisition?
• Ask the employee for suggestions on what he or • What skills do you need to develop next
she might do differently the next time. year?
• Discuss areas for improvement in a way that • What does your supervisor do that helps
shows the employee where changes should be you do your job?
made to meet expectations or could be made to • What more can the supervisor do to
achieve even greater results. improve your job or assist you in being
• Focus on development; that is, problem solve successful?
with the employee on how improvements can be • What else would you like to discuss?
made, and keep the discussion positive and
future-oriented to the extent possible.
• When discussing areas for improvement, discuss
methods and objectives, do not judge.
Example D – Types of Communication to be Avoided
• Trigger phrases or questions
4. End by Expressing the Employee’s
o “What you should have done…” Value and Contributions
o “You just need to calm down.” • Ask the employee to summarize the
o “You are wrong/confused…” discussion.
o “Did you expect that to work?” • Summarize your discussion and end on a
• Guilt trips positive note, stressing the employee’s
o “You don’t appreciate the hard work I do.” overall contribution to the University.
o “If you really cared about this, you would work harder.” • Thank the employee for participation
• Hollow reassurance
during the process.
o “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.”
o “You’ll be fine, I’m sure of it.”
• If appropriate, encourage the employee to
o “I know you’re behind, but I’m sure you’ll catch up.” take steps to improve job performance.
• Condescending Remarks
o “Are you sure you can handle that?”
o “You had trouble with that last time.”
o “You always…”
o “You never…”
PART 3: Next Steps
(At the End of the Assessment Cycle)
Completing the Performance Management Form
The meeting should end by reviewing the main messages that have been communicated. Any
areas that are still disagreed upon by the supervisor and employee should be documented along
with any notes on the overall performance discussion. After the final document has been
completed, the form should be signed by both the supervisor and employee to indicate that the
evaluation meeting took place. Signing the document indicates that the employee has seen and
discussed the evaluation and rating; it does not imply agreement with the evaluation.
Follow with Developmental Feedback
Discussing how an employee can learn from successes and challenges of the past year naturally
leads to a discussion about setting new performance goals. Therefore, when you have finished
examining each of the employee’s objectives and development plan, take a moment to schedule a
performance planning meeting to establish performance objectives for the coming year.
• Ask the employee for suggestions on what he or she might do differently the next time.
• Discuss areas for improvement in a way that shows the employee where changes should be
made to meet expectations or could be made to achieve even greater results.
• Focus on development; that is, problem solve with the employee on how improvements can be
made, and keep the discussion positive and future-oriented to the extent possible.
Agree on Action Steps and Time Frames for Improvement
• Emphasize the importance of continuous improvement.
• Discuss action steps and set time frames.
• Set a date to review progress.
All materials included in this Appendix are updated regularly and available for your use on the
Employee Relations & Training website at http://www.hrs.cmich.edu/PCD/index.htm under the
Performance Management link.
Appendix A: Tips
Tips for Writing Evaluations:
1. DON’T give the impression that the written appraisal is completed before consultation with
others or before the performance discussion.
2. DO meet bringing only notes or a rough draft of the written evaluation.
3. DON’T ignore the employee’s input into the evaluation.
4. DO incorporate employee’s ideas from the meeting(s) into the written evaluation.
5. DON’T be mean-spirited or overly critical in the written assessment.
6. DON’T be falsely positive either.
7. DO provide a balanced and objective view of the employee’s performance.
8. DON’T break new ground in the written appraisal.
9. DO keep written comments consistent with performance expectations discussed in prior
10. DO use measurable behavior objectives.
11. DO describe objectives with action verbs and specify desired outcomes.
12. DON’T introduce new “insights” in the written appraisal.
13. DO compare performance against agreed-upon standards.
14. DO avoid surprises in the final write-up.
Tips for Effective Communication:
• Let other person express views; don’t interrupt.
• Pause; consider what’s been said and what hasn’t been said.
• Listen for content and emotions.
• Make your body language show interest; maintain eye contact.
• Prove you are listening by using summaries and reflective statements.
• Pick words the person will understand; use familiar terminology.
• Say what you mean and be to the point. Give specific examples.
• Make one point at a time; pause to let it sink in; don’t overwhelm.
• Balance the talking and listening so that communication is two-way.
• Check understanding of views by asking for summaries and reactions.
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Tips for Giving Reinforcing Feedback:
Don't ever underestimate the power of reinforcing feedback. We are quick to point out to someone when they
make a mistake. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge them when they do something right. Giving
reinforcing feedback can be a powerful tool for employee motivation. Here's how to use it most effectively.
1. Do it now. Reinforcing feedback is too important to let slide. Say something right away.
2. Make it public. While redirecting feedback should be given privately, reinforcing feedback should be
given publicly. Do it in front of as large a group as appropriate.
3. Be specific. Don't just say "Good job, Sally." Instead say something like "Hakim, that new procedure
you developed for routing service calls has really improved our customer satisfaction. Thanks for
coming up with it."
4. Make a big deal out of it. You don't want to assemble the entire company every time you give
reinforcing feedback, but do as much ceremony as the action warrants.
5. Consider the receiver. It is important to consider the feeling of the person receiving the recognition.
For a very shy person, thanking him in front of his workgroup is probably most appropriate. For
another person, you might hang a banner, balloons, and streamers in the department area.
6. Do it often. Don't wait for the big successes. Celebrate the small ones too.
7. Do it evenly. Big successes need big recognition; small successes need smaller recognition. If you
throw a party for every small success, you diminish its effect for a big success.
8. Be sincere. Don't praise someone for coming in on time. Don't congratulate someone for just doing
their job. People will see right through you. Really mean it when you give reinforcing feedback.
Tips for Giving Redirecting Feedback:
Giving redirecting feedback is never easy, but if done properly it isn't unpleasant.
1. Get your emotions under control. You don't want to critique someone else's actions when you are
angry or upset. You are likely to say something you don't really mean or to react poorly to something
that is said to you.
2. Find a private place. No one wants to receive redirecting feedback in front of others. Sometimes it
is unavoidable, but that should be a last resort. Take a meeting in your office, call the person into a
vacant conference room, step into the lunch room if it is vacant.
3. Focus on their actions, not on the person. You create an immediate barrier when you criticize the
person. Focus instead on what you want to change. Focus on their performance.
4. Be specific. It does no good to tell someone “You have a bad attitude.” You need to identify specific
actions the person took or specific things they said if you want them to understand.
5. Be timely. Redirecting feedback should be given as soon as possible after the event. If you see an
employee being rude to a customer, don't wait until their annual performance review to tell them.
How many other customers will they have angered in the meantime? Call them into your office right
6. Be calm. Don't yell and scream. The other person will become defensive and won't hear what you
are trying to tell them.
7. Reaffirm your faith in the person. This reinforces step three, but here you tell them that you still
have faith in them as a person and in their abilities; it's just their performance you want them to
change. Say something like "You're a good customer service rep, so I'm sure you see the need to be
more patient with customers".
8. Stop talking. After you have told the person what specific, recent actions were inappropriate, and
why, stop talking. Give the other person a chance to respond to or refute your statements. Listen to
what they have to say.
9. Define positive steps. Agree on what future performance is appropriate for the employee. If there
are specific things the employee needs to start doing or needs to stop doing, be sure they are clearly
identified. If there is something you need to do, perhaps additional training for the employee, agree
on that as well.
10. Get over it. After you have given the redirecting feedback and agreed on a resolution, move on with
the job. Don't harbor ill will toward the employee because they made a mistake. Don't hover over
them out of fear that they may make another mistake. Monitor their performance as you do all
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employees, and don't obsess.
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Appendix B: The Five “T’s”
AN ANALYTICAL PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT TOOL FOR SUPERVISORS
Performance problems can be roughly lumped into two very broad categories: “Can’t Do” or “Won’t Do.”
These are very different issues and as a supervisor your response to these situations needs to be
appropriate to the nature of the performance problem. So how do you tell which is which?
Glad you asked…..
In addition to clear instructions, an employee needs five things from you in order to perform any job
effectively: Time; Tools; Technique; Talent; and Training.
• Time – if there’s not enough time to get the job done, it doesn’t matter how well the employee may
“try” to finish the job – it’s just not physically possible to complete the task. Make sure expectations
match allocations. If the job needs 2 hours to finish, but you’ve only allocated twenty minutes, don’t
be surprised when the job’s not done when the timer goes off.
• Tools – Imagine trying to complete some complicated, intricate electrical wiring job, and you’re only
tool is a hammer. Not likely to work out quite the way it was intended. Or suppose you’ve got some
major financial analysis to perform – and your only tools are a No. 2 pencil and a large eraser. No
calculator. No spreadsheet. No hope. Make sure your staff has the tools needed to get the job
• Technique – every trade, profession or specialty has a body of knowledge associated with it that
allows work to be performed more efficiently, more quickly, or more precisely, or deals with
specialized ways to employ common tools used in the work. Make sure that those bits of specialized
knowledge, the “techniques”, are imparted to your staff.
• Talent – As Dirty Harry said, “A person’s gotta know his limitations.” Let’s say I’ve got a tin ear and
couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. The likelihood that I’m going to be successful as the baritone
soloist in the church choir is pretty slim. Save the aggravation. Match the job to the employee’s
skills, background and education.
• Training – the “know how” for the task at hand. If this is absent, incomplete, or poorly done, “know
how” become “no how”, and the job is not going to be done.
So why does all this matter? Simple. Anytime you’re faced with a performance problem, run through the “5
T’s” and make sure each one has been satisfied. See if there was ample time to do the work. Check to see
whether or not the employee had the proper tools, and an appropriate understanding of the proper
technique. Make sure there’s a proper talent match. And finally, look for confirmation that the employee’s
been trained properly for the job.
When you’ve done that, you’re in position to determine what sort of performance problem you’ve been
If you’ve gone through the “5 T’s” and find that one or more of them is missing or incomplete, you’ve got a
“Can’t Do” situation. For example, it wouldn’t matter how well trained or talented someone is, or how well
they know and can apply the techniques of the job using the correct tools if there was not enough time to get
the work done.
You address a “Can’t Do” situation by satisfying the missing “T” and discussing it with the employee. This is
NOT a punitive measure.
If, however, you’ve gone through the “5 T’s” analysis and you find that all are present and accounted for,
you’ve got a “Won’t Do” situation – and that calls for an altogether different approach: Progressive
Discipline. Contact Employee Relations and Training at 989-774-6447 if you find yourself in this situation.
Copyright 2003, K. J. Smart /Blue Eagle Partners, Inc.
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