How the Best Bosses Give Employees Feedback in 5 Minutes

Giving employees feedback doesn’t have to be the time-consuming, energy-sucking, emotionally-uncomfortable experience that managers’ fear. In fact, studies show that more feedback in smaller doses works better for everyone than the traditional check-in meetings that so many bosses default to.

Now, there are two keys—along with practice—that are necessary to keep in mind whenever you give constructive criticism. The best feedback is short and to the point, and it includes something the employee can use to do their work better, now.

Wondering how to be brief and helpful? Just remember this three-word formula: Job-Extra-Annoying.

Job

Start the session with your view of how the employee is doing at completing the tasks associated with their job description. Touch on the things they are expected to do, day-after-day. (Note: This is the only part of the feedback process that is mandatory, the next two categories are optional, depending on what’s most relevant.)

Extra

This stands for extra effort. Make note of any special things they’ve done above and beyond their daily job responsibilities (assuming that applies).

Annoying

If need be, finish with making note of any annoying or problematic behaviors associated with their work that you’ve noticed. Of course, you’re not going to use the word “annoying.”

Here’s an example to show you this formula in action.

Megan was a team leader for a sales and service product team. Her job required her do the same tasks as everyone else, while also managing their schedules and overseeing their quality and efficiency and reviewing the group’s daily completion of tasks. At their weekly check-in Megan’s boss began with the “job feedback,” saying:

“Megan, I can tell your team is doing great by how well they work together and by reviewing their daily reports. An important part of your job is to review and sign the daily reports. I admire how well your group is doing, but these reports aren’t optional, we need you to review and sign them, even when things are going well.”

Through another manager in the company, Megan’s boss learned that she’d been staying late to help a fellow team leader who was having a hard time putting together a good schedule. She used this as her “extra feedback:”

“I found out you’ve been helping Bill sort-out his team’s schedule. That’s great! This sort of work is above and beyond your job description, and it helps make all of us all better. Thank you!”

In the “annoying” category, Megan’s boss had noticed her using her phone in meetings, even though there was a well-known but unwritten rule that it was prohibited.

“I’ve noticed you using your phone more than once in meetings. When you do, is it because something urgent has happened or are you multitasking because the part of the meeting that involves you is over? You know we’re not supposed to so I’m curious what’s going on.”