The dictums of "don't be judgmental" and "don't say anything at all if you can't say something nice" seem to be sufficiently ingrained to make many managers reluctant to provide performance feedback. The barriers to providing feedback, especially negative feedback, range from managers' fears of hurting employee feelings to potential workplace violence. They inhibit managers from providing performance feedback that can help employees grow and develop or enable the organization to eliminate poor performers. While a number of writers have offered strategies such as social learning, education, and training to overcome these barriers, the problem still exists. This paper suggests that Expert Systems (ESs), a relatively new type of tool, can improve the performance feedback skills of both experienced and inexperienced managers. ESs offer managers a means both to increase their knowledge of what makes for an effective appraisal feedback session and to improve their skills in performing this important task in a manner that best fits each employee in each unique situation. By providing managers this just-in-time knowledge, ESs can help managers become more consistent and more effective than ever before in providing performance feedback.
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