To be effective managers, we need to manage our employees and their performance. One of the most powerful ways to guide and coach our team members is by providing feedback. Yet providing feedback seems so hard to do. We often want to avoid pain, either our pain in facing the issue or the possible pain that the recipient may experience. Sometimes we don’t know how to deliver feedback. Or, we save feedback for the annual review process, when the event is in the past.
Feedback is one of the most critical requirements for sustained high-level performance of any human. – Ferdinand Fournies
How do we make giving feedback easier? We need to change our behaviour. Here are some steps you can start working on today.
Step 1: Start by delivering positive feedback on a frequent basis.
As managers of people, we tend to have a focus on fixing problems and correcting behaviour. It is rarer for us to share positive feedback, possibly because good work is expected. For example, my old team could run accurate payroll 99.9% of the time and not hear any praise. It is expected that payroll should be done in an impeccable manner. It was my job as the manager to provide the positive feedback and encouragement for them to know that a good job has been done and to keep it up. By doing so, I developed a high performing, energetic team.
Homework: Provide one piece of positive feedback each day for each of your direct employees. Work up to four pieces of positive feedback per person per day.
Step 2: Practice being specific
General praise can be frustrating and vague comments are not useful for the recipient. Sharing sentiments such as ”Good job” or “Your reports need to improve” does not provide your team member with adequate feedback to make the adjustment(s) to improve. Your feedback needs to be task-specific and results-oriented.
Homework: Work on adding expectations and what you appreciate to the feedback you are providing.
Step 3: Be timely
Feedback is most effective when it is provided at the time that something occurs or not long afterwards. However, please avoid providing feedback when emotions are high. A cooling down period is good in that kind of situation because you want to make sure that you are adequately prepared to deliver feedback and that the recipient is receptive to hearing your message.
Homework: Practice giving all of your direct team members timely, on-going feedback about your evaluation of their performance. If you have implemented Step 1 and Step 2, then Step 3 is a matter of getting the timing down.