Effective managers use a variety of means to assess employee progress and to evaluate performance. One method is constructive feedback, which can be the most challenging for managers. Timely and accurate feedback to employees is an integral component of effective management. However, if your organization or department is on a 24/7 schedule, it can present challenges in providing performance feedback to employees who work when you, as the manager, are not scheduled. You cannot see the employees' body language and facial expressions if you discuss issues with them via the phone and you may not have regularly scheduled meetings to address issues and concerns as they arise. Therefore, you may have less frequent opportunities to talk with employees individually. It is important for managers to be familiar with various types of feedback and to practice using these techniques for communicating with employees about their performance and their progress whether via the phone or in person.


Types of Feedback

Feedback can be either formative, summative, or a combination of both. Below is information regarding common types of feedback:

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback includes activities undertaken by teachers to provide feedback to employees about learning activities in which they are engaged (Black & William, 1998). Formative feedback is designed to provide diagnostic information to learners and their managers. It occurs when teachers feed information back to employees during the module in ways that enable improved learning. The feedback should identify strengths and weaknesses and help employees develop strategies for improving their performance. Formative feedback is commonly regarded as an important assessment practice.

In providing formative feedback, managers should attempt to:

Be timely in providing guidance. For instance, if an employee performs a task that is inconsistent with the specifications of the organization or department, it is important to provide him/her with feedback as close to the event as possible. Doing so will mitigate potential conflict with co-workers, or in a more serious case; harm to a patient.

Relate the feedback to the event by providing specific examples and/or by using charts or other items used to perform the job.
Give employees information about how they can enhance their performance. This should apply to all employees, not just those who are not performing to expected levels.

Serve as a model of the desired level of performance.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is most commonly provided in the form of performance rankings in order to give employees information about the level of proficiency they have demonstrated with job requirements or in the organization/department as a whole. Summative feedback can serve formative functions, such as when comments are provided within the text of a performance review. This form of feedback is designed primarily to help employees as they continue with their current position. It should illustrate their strengths and areas for improvement. However, summative feedback is typically designed to “sum up” employees' overall performance on a job or in an organization/department.

Reflect on the Overview information above.

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