At some point in your life, someone will have told you:
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
When it comes to management of staff, this adage might be better modified to:
Saying nothing at all will have the employee believing either:
- He is doing just fine (no news is good news approach), or
- He is failing miserable and you just don’t want to tell him (the no news means they are plotting against me).
Neither belief is going to be productive in the long run.
Even a confident employee will appreciate your effort to offer constructive criticism whether you provide the positives sandwich or not.
Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to discussing employee performance. Just keep it helpful.