Give feedback that works
Giving feedback can sometimes be just as nerve-wracking as it is to receive it. It can be a little bit like walking on eggshells — you don’t want to get your team off-side and you don’t want to upset anyone, but feedback is super important to highly effective teams and needs to be given in order to grow and improve.
Many leaders struggle to find the balance between being overly critical and sugar-coating feedback so much that the team doesn’t even realise they’re being given feedback. It’s a tough line to walk but it is essential!
In order for feedback to be effective, it needs to be:
Don’t wait until the annual performance review or some other far-off appraisal. Let your team know as soon as possible so that they remember the situation you’re referring to and they know where they stand with you. In saying this, it is important to make sure you don’t provide feedback in the heat of the moment — take a step back and take stock of your emotions, but after that, provide the feedback as soon as possible.
Make feedback a natural part of your team environment. There are many times that feedback will be necessary, but team members are likely to be confused or to have their guard up if the feedback seems to come out of nowhere.
Immediate and regular feedback can lose its shine if it’s always negative. Be sure to hit the balance between negative and positive feedback. Remember that negative feedback will weigh heavier, so ‘balanced’ doesn’t mean equal.
Your feedback shouldn’t come from a personal place of frustration, nor should it call out personal attributes of the team member. Feedback needs to be delivered with as much objectivity as possible and it should always be related to the task at hand, rather than the person/s involved.
Know why you’re giving the feedback. Which area do you hope your team grows in as a result of the feedback? Be clear on this so that you know what kind of language to use to get the message across and how to frame it.
Vague feedback can frustrate your team or just go in one ear and out the other. Change “Good job” to “Good job getting those files ordered so quickly and accurately”. Change “Please don’t submit your work late again” to “When you submit your work late, no one else is able to fulfil their tasks. Your work is really important, so please make sure you get it in on time.” Don’t leave your team wondering what you’re talking about or why it matters!
Mistakes happen! Bring understanding to your feedback so that your team knows the feedback is meant to be helpful, rather than hurtful.
Don’t act as though you have a loudspeaker and no one else gets to have a say. Feedback should always be a conversation, with your team letting you in on their side of the story. The dialogue should also be opened up so that your team is comfortable giving you feedback too.
Feedback shouted out into the void and never followed up on can be seen as empty words and it’s unlikely to see any results. Make sure your words have weight and are followed up on periodically.
The art of giving feedback comes down to really knowing your team well. Know what they respond to well, know how to phrase the negative feedback to get through to them and always be kind. After all, we’re all humans and we only want to be treated as such! Remember to be thoughtful as you deliver feedback.
Need help finding the balance in giving feedback? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.