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5 Tips for Providing Employee Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback in a professional environment can be uncomfortable, no matter your level or years of experience. As with many managerial responsibilities, being prepared for providing constructive criticism can go a long way in easing the awkwardness for you and your employees. To help you plan, here are 5 tips for giving better feedback:

Be specific
Employees respond to focused, direct and clear feedback. Providing positive direction and specific ways to progress will lead to results. General comments like “you need to improve” or “you have a bad attitude” will likely put your employee on the defensive and gives her no clear path for doing better. Instead, offer clear-cut guidance along the lines of “I’d like you to bring one new idea to every brainstorm session” or “Please identify and report on 5 additional KPIs so the team can have more in-depth information.”
Don’t wait for formal reviews
Memories fade or can be altered, which makes it difficult to address something months later. Therefore, the first time an employee hears about an issue or area for improvement shouldn’t be
at a formal quarterly or annual review. Instead, commit to nipping issues in the bud, as near as possible to the time they transpire. This allows you to be crystal-clear in exactly what happened, the circumstances in which it occurred and why something needs to change.
Focus on job performance
Keep constructive criticism task- and performance-focused and try to stay away from the employee’s personality or intentions. The discussion should be centered on facts, how the issue or behavior affected the company or other employees and specific ways to improve. It’s not for you to change someone’s personality or judge why they did what they did. Maintain a professional focus to help the employee improve.

Provide feedback privately
Be respectful of your employee and schedule a private meeting to provide feedback. No one likes to be criticized in public and airing your grievances in front of colleagues will likely cause more harm than good. The employee will immediately go on the defensive and the likelihood of having a productive discussion will plummet. Even if you’re offering positive feedback, it’s still a good idea to do it in private first and if the employee is comfortable with public praise, you could give them a shout-out at an appropriate time.
Be conscious of your delivery
Pay attention to your facial expressions, your body language and your tone of voice. The words you say are impactful but the non-verbal cues are incredibly important as well.
In an interesting study, University of Miami Professor Marie Dasborough observed two groups: one received positive feedback delivered negatively and one received negative feedback delivered positively. In interviews 
afterwards, she noted that the individuals who received the good-natured negative feedback felt better about their performance than the other group. Basically, the words mattered less than how they were delivered.
If you’re struggling with how and when to provide feedback to your employees, let’s schedule a time to talk about it! These are just five of dozens of tips and ideas we can review to help you become more comfortable in helping your employees grow and improve in their roles. 
Thank you to our good friend and colleague, Matt the Lawyer, for the following article with updates on the Fair Labor Standards Act:

White Collar Overtime Rule Finally Dead?

The White Collar Overtime Rule is dead--probably. At the end of last year, I scared every small business owner I know or represent with the Department of Labor's massive change to the Executive, Administrative, and Professional (EAP) overtime exemption. Hopefully, unlike the Night King in Game of Thrones, it will not come back from the dead.

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule in May 2016 seeking to increase the minimum salary for executive, administrative, or professional workers from $23,600 per year, to nearly $50,000 per year. The proposed change would have likely cost workers jobs while adding to the financial burden of small business owners all over the country, particularly those in states where the average salary is much lower. A group of states and business organizations filed suit in Texas. In November 2016, just before the new rules were to take effect, a federal judge put the rule on hold with a preliminary injunction. Late last week, Judge Amos Mazzant issued a permanent injunction, barring implementation of the rule nationwide. If you want a legal dissection of the decision, this report is probably the best around. The gist of the ruling is that the DOL did not have the authority to issue the rule as it was written. There is an appeal of the November 2016 order pending, which is currently scheduled to be heard early next month.

The practical effect of this ruling and election of President Trump is that the overtime rule as published in May 2016 is likely--but not certainly--dead. A change to the overtime rule is coming. The facts behind the rule have not changed; the salary level for EAP exemption is laughably low and has not been updated in  13 years. A change is coming, but it will not be the drastic change the Obama Administration sought. In all likelihood, the Trump Administration will seek a much more tolerable increase in the salary level to the mid-$30,000 range. 
What we're training:

We have a busy training calendar for the fall. Here's a sampling of some of the training topics we'll be covering with clients.

September 13 - Managing an HR Department of One
September 14-December - SHRM-CP/SCP Certification Prep Course
September 15- You Said What to an Employee? (This session is open to the public. Registration details here.)
September 25-27 - HR Analytics for Strategic Partners
October 2-3 - Essentials of Human Resources
October 5 - Investing in our People
October 11-12 - Mastering Your HR Generalist Role
October 22 - Conflict Management
October 24-26 - SHRM-CP/SCP Certification Prep Course
November 6 - December 20 - Virtual HR Business Partners: Enhancing Your Strategic Contributions
November 13-14 - Mastering Your HR Generalist Role
Coming soon!
The HR Action Planner

This do-it-yourself workbook provides a guided roadmap for small businesses and start-ups to help them consider some of the most pressing HR topics. More details coming a special bonus offer just for clients and friends who receive this newsletter!
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