Here’s why you need to ensure good workplace communication

Turn your workplace into all around by knowing exactly how to improve communication at the workplace.

7

min read

We've all been in the situation when we've left a meeting with no idea what to do next. You might have thought you were the only one who felt this way. But hang in there because, studies say that most employees don't get clear orders, while some managers say they're uncomfortable speaking with their employees in general. Improper communication can even lead to problems like delay in completion of tasks or can sometimes even lead to losing out when it comes to achieving the perfect outcome.

Table of contents

What is workplace communication?

Workplace communication is the verbal and nonverbal exchange of information and ideas between one person/group and another inside an organization. It includes emails, text messages, notes, and phone conversations, among other things. Effective communication is essential for getting the task done, as well as for developing trust and enhancing staff productivity.

Workers come from a variety of cultures and origins, and they may be accustomed to different norms. 

Effective communication is essential for increasing employee cooperation and avoiding missed deadlines or activities that could harm the organization. Communication gaps result from ineffective communication, which generates confusion, loses time, and diminishes productivity. For example, an employee will not be able to complete his/her task if not the required task is not communicated in the right manner. To achieve certain development goals, managers and lower-level employees must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with one another through verbal and nonverbal communication.

Information is absorbed in various ways by different people and so, in order to ensure that everyone understands what is being said, the communication approach must be simple, clear, and precise. Using visuals to illustrate important information can help people understand it better. 

The presence of trust in an organization will also make communication easier to employ. To build a tension-free workplace, coworkers must establish relationships. Messages should be delivered and received in their original format. Bullying, taking credit for someone else's work, and free-riding should all be avoided in the workplace if you want to have healthy relationships.

Types of communication in the workplace 

Each category that comes under the various types of communication, plays a crucial role in exchanging information with your coworkers and consumers. Furthermore, when you prioritize effective communication in your company, the natural result will be a positive, efficient, and productive working culture.

Understanding the major benefits and cons of each style of workplace communication can help you discover the appropriate balance of successful communication in your company. 

Here are the main types of communication at workplaces:

Oral Communication / Verbal Communication

The use of words to communicate information is known as verbal communication. Written and spoken words are both included in verbal communication. Oral communication, on the other hand, refers to the act of speaking words. 

However, these days, words are frequently used interchangeably, and you'll see verbal in many job adverts when referring to spoken communication. If you've worked for any length of time, you'll probably agree that talking to people is usually the greatest option, at least in the beginning if it's available. For example, if your boss needs you to create alterations in a given project, communicating where exactly the alterations are required verbally, could save time and bring out better results. Aside from being the quickest and most efficient means to convey your message, there are other advantages.

Non-Verbal Communication

When communicating, it's impossible to avoid using nonverbal clues. You will be offering them whether you intend to or not. The important thing is to make sure that the cues you give off are appropriate and consistent with your message.

To make your message obvious, all of your non-verbal communication must be consistent with your verbal communication, just as you wouldn't shake your head and say yes. When used effectively, good nonverbal communication leads to improved overall communication, reduced confusion, and improved rapport.

You can speak the right words in the wrong way and receive a completely different response. One specific word can have different meanings to it, which is why clarifying what exactly you mean to your fellow employees is very important. For example, if you require no changes in the beginning of a document but you do require changes at the end, specifying exactly where you need those changes will eliminate chances of misunderstandings. And chatting to someone without making eye contact makes them seem as if you aren't paying attention. 

Horizontal or Lateral Communication

Communication between individuals, teams, groups, or departments at the same hierarchical level in an organization is known as lateral communication, sometimes known as horizontal communication. 

More open discussion, better collaboration, and idea-sharing are all advantages of lateral communication, which can lead to improved creativity and reduced miscommunication, confusion, and duplication of effort between teams where roles overlap or both teams are working on the same project. For example, create more room for brainstorming more often so that all your team members feel included and valued and at the same time you get more ideas to make that will help you make better decisions.

Formal communication

Formal communication is another example of the various sorts of workplace communication, and it means exactly what it says. When you communicate in a formal manner, you are communicating in a formal manner. Formal communication's goal is to convey information in a professional, business-like manner. This isn't to say that you can't be professional when chatting casually, but it does indicate that you shouldn't use slang or communicate in a way that's too familiar or casual. With time, you should be able to form positive relationships with your coworkers, manager, and anyone else with whom you do business on a daily basis.

Communication from top to down

Vertical communication is the communication between people, teams, or departments in an organization at different organizational levels. It is the polar opposite of horizontal communication. Consider the relationship between you and your supervisor.

Communication in Writing

Written communication exists in addition to email. Anything that involves putting pen to paper or typing is considered a written communication. Emails, chat, Slack, text, PowerPoint presentations, or even simply taking notes that may be utilized or referenced later are all examples of this. Anything in which the words are written down.

Communication through images

If you've ever had to give a presentation, you've almost certainly employed visual communication. Visual communication includes more than simply words; it also includes images, graphs, and other visual displays. 

Because people absorb information in different ways, employ visuals if you're giving a presentation to a group of people. This will ensure that everyone's attention is captured. When you're trying to convey a hard topic or have a lot of facts to give, visual communication is also useful. You'll be able to explain the complexity in a concise and straightforward manner by using visuals, tables, graphs, and photos.

Listening

Listening is the last but certainly not the least of the various types of professional communication. Which may come as a surprise. While listening is included in nonverbal communication, it is such an important aspect of communication that it demands special attention. 

When it comes to workplace communication, ignoring listening or not giving it the credit it deserves is the best way to stay stressed. When people don't listen, they make mistakes, lose time, duplicate work, and even break up relationships. Despite this, it isn't usually regarded as one of the most important forms of communication in the workplace.

Why should you maintain good workplace communication? 

Communication is essential for the smooth running of the workplace, and the quality of communication has a substantial impact on job outcomes. 

Improving communication can be accomplished by using signs or symbols that are familiar to all participants in the communication process, which may include not only words but also imagery, gestures, and other elements derived from the company's shared culture and experience. To better communicate the information to the employee, gestures or drawings can be employed. Because quality communication is the foundation for work success, successful communication is carefully thought out and purposefully given.

Effective communication in the workplace can help to eliminate difficulties and boost productivity. This means, there will be fewer complications when it comes to task completion, leading to a higher level of productivity. The ability to communicate effectively at work can boost overall productivity and help to build a strong team. 

Employees will be more interested in cooperating and finding the best answer jointly if they consult with each other and consider the opinions of others. Managers can better understand their employees' talents and skills by establishing strong communication, and then giving clear directions to the people who are best suited to the task, boosting the overall efficacy of each project. It's not only about how well you collaborate with others in the office when it comes to communication. It's all about forming connections, reducing errors, and, most importantly, functioning as efficiently as possible. As a leader, one of the most important things you can do is encourage effective communication patterns in the workplace. Because numbers aren't deceiving.

7c’s of effective communication 

Completeness

The communication must be complete. It should convey all facts required by the audience. The sender of the message must take into consideration the receiver’s mind set and convey the message accordingly.

Conciseness

Conciseness means wordiness, i.e, communicating what you want to convey in least possible words without forgoing the other C’s of communication. Conciseness is a necessity for effective communication.

Consideration 

Consideration implies “stepping into the shoes of others”. Effective communication must take the audience into consideration, i.e, the audience’s view points, background, mind-set, education level, etc. Make an attempt to envisage your audience, their requirements, emotions as well as problems. Ensure that the self-respect of the audience is maintained and their emotions are not at harm. Modify your words in the message to suit the audience’s needs while making your message complete.

Concreteness 

Concrete communication implies being particular and clear rather than fuzzy and general. Concreteness strengthens confidence.

Correctness 

Correctness in communication implies that there are no grammatical errors in communication

Courtesy

Courtesy in message implies the message should show the sender’s expression as well as should respect the receiver. The sender of the message should be sincerely polite, judicious, reflective and enthusiastic.

Clarity

Clarity implies emphasizing on a specific message or goal at a time, rather than trying to achieve too much at once.

Here’s what can go wrong

As our company grows and we begin to interact with additional people, we establish different relationships and communication channels. A sender, a message, and a recipient are all part of every communication. 

This may appear to be a simple concept, but communication is a really complicated issue. When all communication is multiplied by the number of possible communication routes, we obtain a complex network of possibilities and options with a number of common communication problems and obstacles. Here are a few challenges that can come in the way:

Using technology to spread information

Email and intranet communication are faceless conduits. Stepping out and speaking to people face-to-face is one of the most challenging hurdles to successful communication in the workplace, especially when you have a difficult message to deliver.

Ease of communication

When it comes to professional communication difficulties, the belief that everyone can communicate well is possibly the most destructive. Some managers are unable to communicate and are unable to assist others in expressing themselves.

Expectations and prejudices.

This might lead to stereotypes and incorrect assumptions. People frequently hear what they expect to hear rather than what is spoken, and as a result, they make incorrect judgments.

Cultural differences.

People's social interactions, as well as how they express their emotions, differ drastically among countries. For example, the concept of private space varies widely depending on culture and social circumstances.

Smart tips to improve communication at work

Laying a solid foundation

When an employee has faith in you, they are more inclined to come forward and discuss when an issue arises. Establishing a rapport with your staff is a terrific method to start laying that foundation.

Schedule 1:1s on a weekly or monthly basis

Setting a time to communicate can often be all that is required to establish channels of contact. If you're busy and your employee wants to share recent struggles, concerns, or even accomplishments, she could feel that she's bothering you during the day. You'll learn more about the inner workings of what's going on at the office and have a better understanding of how to iron out the wrinkles if you schedule a recurring meeting to touch base.

Get outside the office

Spending hours and weeks at a time in the workplace can have a negative impact on our mental health, particularly during the winter months. A change of location might often be all it takes to wake individuals up and revitalize their vitality. Leaving the office does not imply squandering productive time. Introduce periodic work-from-home Fridays or suggest a local coffee shop where your team can meet. You can bring the office wherever you want if you have the correct equipment.

Pay attention

People frequently associate communication with conveying one's own message, yet effective communication is truly a two-way street. It's tough to get on the same page if you're not actively listening to what the other person is saying. Ask clarifying questions and give the conversation your whole attention. Avoid multitasking or formulating an answer before the other person has finished speaking. Active listening is difficult, but it is worthwhile.

Company culture

Your company's culture should include communication. It enables teams to connect with one another and aligns them with the aims of your company. This can be accomplished by incorporating employee engagement strategies into the workplace. Also, brand your intranet, office design, business documentation, and other locations where you may symbolize what your company stands for to promote your fundamental values.

Reach out

Some folks are bashful no matter how you slice it. Introversion is not a medical condition. Introverts are equally as useful and skilled at their jobs as aggressive workers. Reach out to introverted personnel and engage in interactions with them in which they feel free to offer their thoughts. If a group of employees is absent from the workplace, it is impossible to improve communication at the workplace.

Benefits of having effective workplace communication 

Better employee engagement

In today's workplace, employee engagement is a constant problem. And, while some companies use all sorts of strange and amazing strategies to increase engagement, they frequently forget the basics. All other tactics or ideas should be built on the foundation of open, day-to-day communication. Employees have a clear grasp of their function and how it fits into the business in a climate of transparency and trust, which is a vital step in ensuring they are engaged with their work and their management.

Encourages creativity.

When employees are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives, a conducive climate for innovation can be created. Workers who are free to provide feedback and fine-tune ideas are more likely to think outside the box and express such ideas and methods to their coworkers and management.

Maintains a positive work environment.

Maintaining the status quo in the workplace relies heavily on open communication. People of various races, cultures, religions, and personalities are commonly seen in the workplace. With so many variances, it's only natural that there will be some friction.

It helps in crisis management.

Any company coping with a crisis, whether internally or publicly, needs to communicate clearly and transparently. In reality, without communication, a crisis can spread and affect other divisions as well as a company's brand. Internally, proactive communication will ensure that employees respond in a coordinated manner, reducing the impact of the event.

Creates a better impression

A corporation that is known for its ability to communicate effectively both internally and with clients has a positive public image. These businesses are demonstrating that they have nothing to hide and are open and transparent in every element of their operations. This can have a favorable impact on hiring, investment, and corporate expansion.

The earlier you try to get rid of factors that give rise to Improper communication, the better you can grow both, as an organization and as a team. All it takes is going a step further to pave the way to achieve goals faster, and this can only be possible with proper communication at your workplace.

Dhanashree Jadhav

Community, SuperBeings

Hi! I am Dhanashree. I'm currently building a super community for talent management folks to gain knowledge and share experiences at SuperBeings

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OKRs
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x
min read

Agile and OKRs: What You Need to Know to Thrive in a VUCA World

It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.

While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we will focus on:

  • Relevance of agile and OKRs in the VUCA world
  • Importance of leveraging agile techniques for OKRs
  • Best agile and OKR framework for growing organizations

Why you need to reimagine goal setting in the VUCA world

Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:

  • Annual or multi-year goals with little or no interventions at regular intervals to realign on changing priorities
  • Top-down approach — goals being set by those at the top with minimal inputs from those working on the ground
  • Only annual feedback cycles and the inability to identify or address challenges in real time
  • Lack of flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or situations, which are uncertain and ambiguous

This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions. 

However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive. 

Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:

  • Increased globalization requires businesses to be agile and adapt to changes at all times
  • Focus on creating short term goals and action plans
  • Need to relook at business priorities due to changing market conditions and customer expectations 
  • Need to incorporate constant feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • Need to focus on collaborative goal setting over top down command

Relevance of agile and OKRs for growing organizations

While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —

  • OKRs can help you understand the end goal and envision what success will look like. 
  • On the other hand, the agile methodology can enable you to create the right roadmap with frequent experimentation to reach the OKRs successfully. 

Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:

  • Set shorter goals for each quarter with the flexibility to look at the results in real time
  • Agile iterations based on learning which can be communicated across teams 
  • Shorter feedback cycles which prevent investment losses that might occur if the whole project/ goal has to be reworked
  • Continuous improvement with frequent retrospectives which can enable you to reflect on what is working well
  • Focus on collaborative goal setting and performance management with team autonomy
  • Agile approach to progress tracking

How to use agile techniques for OKRs

Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world. 

Agile Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Ensure collaborative OKR setting, assigning OKR champions and the right team members to execute the same
  • Facilitate clear understanding and communication of the intention and expectation behind each OKR and the responsibility for every team member

Agile Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Focus on clear outcomes and key results instead of comprehensive literature on why something is important
  • Facilitate shorter feedback cycles to gauge challenges early on and ensure feasibility of the OKRs
  • Reduce administrative overheads and complex processes related to OKR setting and progress tracking by using a simple, integrated OKR tool

Agile Value 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Ensure continuous development by taking real time feedback from internal customers i.e. stakeholders in the leadership

Agile Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

  • Facilitate dynamic planning over a static plan with quarterly OKRs
  • Ensure adaptability to change, uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Promote short cadence to gauge achievability and relevance of key results early on

Best agile and OKR framework

In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework. 

We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR 

This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:

1. Create value based OKRs

  • Focus on creating value based OKRs instead of activity based
  • Activity based OKRs are effective for specific projects, but for organizational goals, the focus should be on value
  • Instead of focusing only on the outcomes, have a clear understanding about how each of the outcomes can create value for the organization
  • The activities for each OKR should be a part of the agile roadmap and not the end destination

If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals. 

2. Facilitate horizontal alignment for shared OKRs

  • Encourage collaborative OKR setting with realistic timelines and short intervals
  • Make OKRs team/ department specific and acknowledge avenues for collaboration and alignment between teams on shared OKRs
  • Acknowledge OKR dependencies between teams and facilitate transparency and horizontal alignment
  • Avoid splitting OKRs for a shared goal between teams, rather create opportunities for working together

For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.

Objective: Successfully execute the 7th edition of our annual event

Key Results

  • Get 1000+ unique registrations
  • Raise INR 20,00,000 in sponsorship
  • Curate 5 high impact panels
  • Get 10+ media and affiliate partners
  • Get 5000+ impressions on social media with organic promotion

If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams

3. Combine quality and quantity results

Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:

  • Use OKRs to validate goals set using the agile methodology
  • Ensure each key result has a quantitative (data) and qualitative aspect (value)
  • Use a combination of agile and OKRs to ensure that your progress is positively impacting the organization

The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management. 

4. Promote use of data

  • Leverage data and evidence to create your agile based OKRs
  • Instead of creating OKR based on leadership opinion alone, validate the same with market study
  • Don’t rely completely on hypothetical representation, undertake primary and secondary research to ensure relevance and perceived achievability

Pro-tip:

Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%. 

However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.

5. Build self organizing teams

  • Provide you teams with a clear idea of what the larger vision looks like
  • Encourage them to set their own OKRs and help with a direction to achieve the same
  • Facilitate team autonomy and empower your team members with the right tools and resources like SuperBeings to not only set OKRs, but also track progress in real time and grade them at the end of the cycle. (Learn more)

Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction. 

Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Furthermore, leveraging the right technology resources can help you stay on track and enable you to thrive in the VUCA world. 

OKRs
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min read

How to Create a High Performance Culture Using OKR Methodology?

Like most fast growing organizations, you might also be leveraging the OKR methodology to set, implement and facilitate effective goal setting to maximize growth. If not, you should start using OKRs ASAP.

OKRs not only provide an excellent goal setting framework but also drive high performance when implemented strategically. Most importantly, with enhanced goal visibility and transparency, OKRs ensure that everyone is on the same page which is the foundation of a cohesive and high performing culture. 

In this article, we will discuss 8 ways in which you can adopt the OKR methodology to build a thriving company culture.

Use OKR methodology in 8 ways

1. Focus and clarity

A high performance and thriving company culture is based on the foundation of clarity and focus. When there are 100 things to focus on, your employees will eventually lose sight of what’s actually important and might feel burdened with non-priority tasks. This will lead to a poor employee experience and limited productivity, both situations that prevent an impactful culture.

However, when you apply the OKR methodology, you will be able to limit your focus on 3-5 top priorities which will attract attention, energy and efforts across the organization. You will then be able to create a high performance culture by dedicating all your resources to the key priorities to realize impact. 

2. Collaboration and alignment

A culture that thrives on collaboration, teamwork and alignment is one which creates maximum impact. The OKR methodology can help achieve this in an effective manner. On one hand, everyone is clear about their role in the OKR achievement, which makes collaboration seamless because everyone is on the same page and no one steps on the shoes of others. 

On the other hand, OKRs can help your employees align their responsibilities and tasks with the overall vision of the organization, motivating them to contribute to the big picture. 

To learn more about how to align teams using OKRs, read this

3. Agility and resilience

Recent times have shown that uncertainty and ambiguity will continue to mark the new normal. Thus, a culture of agility, resilience and responsiveness is critical for fast growing organizations. The OKR methodology can help achieve the same. 

OKRs are cognizant of the changing environment and have the flexibility to be adapted to the same. 

More importantly, you can leverage the OKR methodology to foster a culture that focuses on outcomes and is not fixated on the tasks to achieve the outcome at hand. 

4. Continuous engagement and reflection

One of the top challenges of building a great company culture is a siloed approach and annual reflection. This leads to surfacing of major risks and problems which result in high rates of attrition, absenteeism and lower levels of motivation, productivity, etc. 

However, the OKR methodology adopts an approach of continuous engagement and reflection. You can create a regular cadence to check OKR progress for each of your team members, even daily is effective. 

This continuous engagement and reflection can enable you to preempt risks before they surface and leverage the power of communication to address them in real-time. Invariably, a culture built on continuous engagement leads to greater impact and high levels of performance as well as employee satisfaction. 

5. Transparency 

The lack of transparency is one of the key obstacles for many fast growing organizations that seek to create a thriving company culture. A way out often seems difficult to navigate. Fortunately, the OKR methodology can help address this challenge as well. When you use OKR, especially with the support of an effective OKR tool, you can facilitate high levels of transparency. 

Everyone in the organization will not only know their role, but also will have a complete view of the level of performance for others. Such transparency can help you increase coordination of efforts and give everyone the visibility of what’s happening across the company. 

6. Non-hierarchy

You may agree that most fast growing organizations these days seek to replace a strict hierarchy with a more flat organizational structure that facilitates inclusion of diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions. However, many struggle when it comes to actually implementing this thought. 

Adopting OKRs can solve this problem.

By nature, the OKR methodology is based on a collaborative foundation where a top-down approach compliments a bottom-down approach for goal setting. 

This suggests that while the skeletal structure of the goals might be laid down by those in the top leadership, you can give all employees the freedom and autonomy to create OKRs for their teams and verticals. 

When your employees participate in setting the OKRs they have to execute, the level of ownership is much higher. Thus, you can leverage the OKR methodology to create a thriving culture built on greater ownership and a flat organizational structure. 

7. Open communication and feedback

With a focus on continuous engagement and reflection, the OKR methodology can help you facilitate open communication and feedback. Many studies have shown that a culture that facilitates regular feedback along with open channels of communication is more likely to thrive than one which does not. 

In the OKR methodology, when you constantly track your OKR progress (download our free template for tracking OKRs), you will be armed with data backed insights to offer regular feedback for your employees. Furthermore, you can also leverage the same to start meaningful conversations with your team members in case you feel that there is any kind of disconnect. Such open communication can help you create a truly inclusive culture when employees feel their voice is heard. 

8. Accountability and recognition

Finally, a company culture that thrives has two major components supporting it, accountability and recognition.

  • On one hand, only when your employees are accountable will they give in their 100% to create a high performance culture. 
  • On the other hand, if you don’t recognize the efforts of your employees frequently and in an effective manner, they are bound to feel demotivated with a lack of encouragement, leading to a poor employee experience and culture. 

The OKR methodology is an answer to both these challenges. 

  • First, being regularly reviewed, tracked and organization wide visibility makes accountability a given for fast growing organizations leveraging OKRs. Since everyone knows what the other person is responsible for, there is a development of a culture of accountability. 
  • Second, with regular tracking, monitoring individual progress becomes seamless for managers. Invariably, they can track the performance of their team members and recognize efforts in real time. This leads to a culture of recognition which is bound to see high levels of engagement, motivation and satisfaction. 

Empower your culture with the OKR methodology

Now that you know how the OKR methodology can help you in many ways to create a thriving culture, it is also true that as a fast growing organization with multi-pronged focus, leveraging OKRs is a challenging task. To address the same, you can collaborate with an integrated OKR tool like SuperBeings to automate the OKR adoption and maintenance.

With SuperBeings, you get to — 

  • Keep OKRs at the center of your business activities by aligning everyday tasks 
  • Reduce friction in goal management with zero context switching (by integrating Slack, Teams and Gchat)
  • Stay ahead of risks with a bird's eye view on key OKR status as well as compare progress over time with automated daily OKR tracking
  • Connect OKRs with Meetings tool to automate OKR check-ins and empower managers with data-backed AI driven actionable templates for meaningful conversations

Learn more about the OKR tool here. Otherwise, to see this in action, book a quick call with one of our experts. Also, get all your questions answered on the same. 

See Also

How to Run a Successful OKR Progress Review  

The complete guide to adopting OKRs (PDF)

Master OKRs in just 10 days: Free email course

Performance
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x
min read

How to Write Negative Employee Reviews (Examples + Templates)

With performance management becoming a critical part of organizational success, giving effective employee reviews is becoming a crucial part of a manager’s responsibilities. While regular employee performance reviews focus on illustrating the strengths and what worked for employees and the organization at large, there needs to be an equal focus on areas of development in case of poor work performance

If you look closely, writing negative employee reviews is often considered to be more difficult because the words need to be chosen very carefully. It needs to have a developmental tone rather than a critical one. 

What are negative employee reviews?

As the term suggests, negative employee reviews are reviews delivered to employees who have underperformed and need to be pulled up to the expected levels. It involves a variety of components which include:

  • Problem statement i.e. an illustration of poor performance, how it has been manifested and its impact on the overall organizational success
  • A clear understanding of the level of performance which is expected
  • A potential way or action items to correct the poor performance and improve

To get actionable ideas of how to deal with poor performance issues at work, read this

Writing and delivering negative employee reviews is very important for any organization that seeks to maintain a high level of employee performance. It is critical to ensure that:

  • Poor performers are aware of their level of underperformance and have a clear picture of what’s expected from them
  • Those who are underperforming get an opportunity to improve or face the consequences of consistently performing poorly
  • Underperformers are given the right support and guidance to improve their work and efforts to meet the expectations

Why should you be cautious of your words?

When you are writing negative employee performance reviews, you need to be extremely cautious of the words you choose. Using the right words will help the receiver acknowledge and work on the suggested points, while using words that are too harsh or critical can lead to adverse consequences. There are a few reasons which make the choice of words extremely important. 

  • The right words can help negative employee reviews focus on the developmental aspects and the impact of poor performance on the organization, rather than criticizing the person in general
  • They can help ensure that the job and the performance are the focus of the employee reviews and not the character or the personality of the person
  • Being cautious also ensures that the negative employee reviews don’t have a negative impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the employee and are taken in a constructive spirit.

The same review when offered with the right words can be more powerful and have a larger influence. 

For instance a statement like ‘you interfere too much in the work of others’ can be seen as a personal attack and may yield a defensive response from the receiver. 

However if you frame it in a different manner like ‘if you give others greater autonomy and freedom to work in their own way, you will be able to inspire greater creativity and innovation’, you will be able to put your message across and also help your employees understand how it will make a difference. 

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Tips for writing negative employee reviews 

In addition to being cautious of the words you use, there are a few other tips which you must keep in mind while writing negative performance reviews, including:

1. Keep it crisp and structured

While giving negative reviews is difficult, don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. However, instead of directly saying what isn’t going well, try adopting the sandwich approach. Start with a positive comment, add areas of improvement and end it with some suggestions and action items. 

Example: Tina has an excellent eye for detail and is very dedicated to her work. However, she often misses the deadlines which has led to a delay in 30% of her projects resulting in poor client experience. It would help her performance greatly, if she is able to prioritize her work better and keep an organized calendar for timely delivery. She can consider using the latest project management tools to facilitate better prioritization. 

2. Don’t get personal

Second, negative employee reviews should focus on the job or the role and not the person specifically. Steer away from using words or phrases which may end up combining performance and personality of the person. Your review should be specific towards performance challenges and not generalize that performance challenge is a personality trait.

Example: Instead of saying, “you are not punctual”, you can say that “I have seen you arrive late for meetings frequently, leaving shorter time for discussions. It would be best if you could be more punctual to respect others' time and make the most effective use of the same.”

3. Focus on progress

When you are writing negative performance reviews, you must focus on the progress and how a change in behavior and attitude can help them in the long run. Simply mentioning what went wrong and the associated process might lead to demotivation. 

Example: Some of your work has had grammatical errors in the past, maybe because you were trying to complete a lot at once. I am sure if you prioritize some tasks and create an action plan, your work quality will be better. 

4. Offer facts

Don’t simply give negative employee reviews about the problem area, but back it up with facts and data points. This will help you illustrate a pattern and establish that your review is not based on a single incident. Also, it will make your review more credible and authentic and not just a few words strung together. This will also help you in being very specific.  

Example: It has been observed that 40% of your customers claim that you don’t have adequate knowledge of your product, leading to a poor experience. 

5. Give examples

There might be some performance parameters which are difficult to add quantitative data points to. In such cases, you can offer specific examples of underperformance, especially if it has been repetitive. It is ideal to have at least 2-3 instances of poor performance to make your point stronger. 

Example: It has been noticed that in the aspiration to get your work perfect, you end up delaying projects. It was observed in project X with client A, project Y with client B as well as when the internal submission for Z was due. 

Pro-tip: Use our free Performance Review Phrases template to get 50+ examples of writing a negative review positively

How to deliver a poor performance review?

Once you write the negative employee reviews, you exactly know what you want to say to your employees. However, the way you deliver it also has a big impact on how it is received. To make the process simple, we have compiled a list of some of the best practices to help you deliver a poor performance review in the best way possible:

1. Connect in person

If you are delivering a negative performance review, it is best to do it in person, or if your team is remote, over a video call. If you deliver it over an email, you cannot be sure of the tone and context in which your words will be read. 

It might backfire by being read as more critical than developmental as per the intent. Furthermore, when you are delivering the negative reviews face to face, you can also use your gestures and body language to facilitate authenticity and empathy. 

2. Steer away from yelling

No matter how poor the performance has been, when you are delivering negative employee reviews, you should stay away from yelling or using foul language. Since the focus is on facilitating development for your employee, yelling will only defeat the purpose, making the employee demotivated and pushing them towards even lower levels of confidence and motivation. Furthermore, it will negatively impact your organization from an employer brand perspective. It can also create a negative impact on the wellbeing of your employees. 

3. Add anecdotes 

While delivering the review, you may want to add some personal stories or anecdotes if you have yourself been through something on those lines. This will help you connect better with your employees and make them trust you more. Furthermore, it can enable you to illustrate how they can turn poor performance into something better with a live example in front of them. 

4. Make it a dialogue

Your negative review shouldn’t be a monologue where you deliver what you have written with the employee absorbing it as a passive recipient. Instead, make it a dialogue by putting forward questions to understand the reasons behind poor performance and how you and the organization as a whole can help turn the table. Hearing their side of the story is extremely important before deciding on the next steps. 

4. Create a safe environment

When you are delivering negative employee reviews, you need to create a safe environment. It should not be harsh and the employee should feel comfortable in receiving what you have to offer. Also, make sure you deliver the review privately and not publicly shame your employee. They should see it as a developmental conversation in a safe environment, where they can also voice their opinions. 

5. Make it regular

Finally, negative employee reviews need to be regular and not come as a surprise to your employees at the end of the year. Regular reviews will give your employees enough room to improve their performance. Furthermore, it will give them a clear picture of what to expect when the year closes. 

To learn how SuperBeings can help you have guided conversations around negative performance review with AI recommendations based on performance and goals history as well as maintain a steady cadence to maximize the impact of such conversations, see this

Offer suggestions and follow up

After you have delivered the negative reviews to employees, the natural next step is to create a plan for improvement to help your employees reach the level of performance you expect out of them. This is a critical part of the performance management and talent development process for employees who have been consistently underperforming. Here are a few ways you can help your employees improve their performance.

1. Create action items collaboratively

If you have reached this level of negative employee reviews, you and your employee would be on the same page about their level of performance. Thus, it is best to create a list of action items that can help them improve their performance. To create the next steps, you must:

  • Ensure the steps are specific and not generic which only state the objective
  • Create steps which are aspirational, but achievable at the same time
  • Ascertain that there is an intended result for each decided step
  • Collaborate and brainstorm with your employee to create action items which are agreed upon by both
  • Align timelines and other factors to achieve success

2. Document the next steps

Next, your focus should not only be on planning the action items, but documenting them as well, because once they are out of sight, they’ll be out of mind. Furthermore, documenting them will help you remember the agreed steps and track progress every now and then. 

Clearly document what needs to be achieved, by when and how. It can be a good idea to encourage your team members to constantly document their experience as well to help discuss what has been working well and what needs to improve. 

3. Draft a Performance Improvement Plan (PiP) if needed

Depending on the performance issue, you may want to introduce a performance improvement plan for your employee. It is a formal tool to address performance challenges which outlines specific goals and expectations along with clear actions that need to be undertaken over a duration of 30-90 days.

For more details on PIP, check out A guide to implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP)

4. Set up a cadence

You also must set up a cadence to discuss performance improvements or challenges once the next steps are agreed upon. Unless you connect regularly to discuss the status, you might find yourself at square one at the end of the next performance review period as well. 

Depending on what needs to be achieved, you can set a weekly, fortnightly or monthly cadence to connect with your poor performers. While it may be seen as a regular review, it will also act as a reinforcer for them to ensure there is some improvement everytime the cadence to meet comes up. 

5. Define metrics

When you are determining the next steps, it is important to identify the associated metrics as well. For instance, if you want your employee to become more detail oriented, your metric can focus on reduction in errors by a specific percentage over a specific duration of time. 

The metrics will help you measure whether or not there has been an improvement in the performance as desired or not. At the same time, the metrics will help your employee move towards a specific goal. 

6. Follow up

While you have a set cadence, you may also want to check-in or follow up from time to time to make your employee comfortable enough to reach out to you in between your cadence for connecting. The follow ups can be over emails or calls or simple messages to check if everything is on track and to offer them any support whichever is needed. Especially in the beginning, you may need to check from time to time in case there’s any additional support that the employee needs to work on the action items. 

7. Evaluate progress

Finally, to ensure that your negative employee reviews translate to impact, you must focus on evaluating progress. Use the metrics you defined to gauge the level of progress and document it whenever you evaluate the same. This will help you establish a trend over time. 

Furthermore, if you feel the progress is below expectations, try to understand the rationale behind the same to check if putting the employee on a performance improvement plan will make more sense. 

Wrapping Up

By now, you must have gained a clear understanding of how to write, deliver and follow up on negative employee performance reviews constructively. If you are keen to learn how best to connect negative performance issues with regular 1:1 meetings with your team members with technology, book a quick demo with one of our executives. We would love to show you around :)

See Also

How to use Start Stop Continue feedback framework for high performance

10 performance review tips for managers that actually work

How to use employee coaching to unlock performance

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