As managers, we intuitively know that giving and getting honest feedback is essential to grow and develop, and to build successful organizations. So why is it that many of us put off giving feedback to our employees? Maybe it’s because there are so many ways to mess it up.
Here are some common feedback mistakes:
- Speaking out only when things are wrong.
- Providing generic praise without specifics or an honest underpinning.
- Waiting until performance or behavior is substantially below expectations before acting on it.
- Giving negative feedback in public.
- Criticizing performance without giving suggestions for improvement.
- Not conducting regular performance reviews.
Clearly, giving and receiving constructive feedback is a skill that must be honed.
Developing proficiency in this area is essential to building good relationships with, and motivating peak performance from, your team. To help get you started, here are four tips for providing feedback the right way:
1. Be proactive. Nip issues in the bud and avoid messy interpersonal tangles that result from neglected communication. If you meet with employees regularly to give feedback, it conveys, “Your success is important to me, so I want to be accessible to you.”
2. Be specific. Although it’s not easy to provide negative feedback, it’s important to be as clear as possible by giving specific examples that illustrate your point. Instead of saying, “Your attitude is bad,” say, “When you miss deadlines, then cross your arms and look away when I discuss it with you, it gives me the impression that you don’t care about the quality of your work. Can you help me understand this behavior better?”
3. Develop a progress plan. Be clear about the specific changes in behavior that you expect in a specific period of time, and follow up as scheduled.
4. Link employees’ performance to organizational goals. Reinforce the value of your employees’ contributions by giving specific examples of how their work and positive behaviors serve the organization and its customers.