Giving feedback is an essential skill and necessary for success as a manager. In my post Manager Essentials, I explored the rules of engagement I use for managing a team. Feedback is a Gift is rule #2. Feedback is something I’ve had to learn to love over time. It can be hard to not to take it personally, but it’s essential to growth. I’ve come to learn that reflecting on feedback and deciding what to internalize to foster personal change is a career blessing. You are doing your employees a disservice if you’re not providing regular feedback. To effectively mentor and elevate your employees, you must be comfortable giving feedback – both positive and negative
To give meaningful feedback, I break it down to the 4 Be’s:
- Be Specific
- Be Timely
- Be Transparent
- Be Kind
First, be specific, whether praising or telling your employee a hard truth. Giving specific examples of demonstrated behaviors is crucial if you want your employee to take your message to heart. Just telling an employee they did a great job isn’t going to cut it with most people. Most won’t believe you. Make sure you have specific examples of the behavior you observed. To the best of your ability, keep it about your employees performance, not about their personality.
Joshua, I noticed during that meeting you would often interrupt Claudia when she was talking. When you do that it causes a problem. I’d like you to work on waiting until Claudia finishes her thoughts before speaking in your next meeting. Do you think you can do that? What help do you need from me?
Sophie, I was really impressed how you handled that call with the upset vendor. Your calm tone and willingness to listen helped defuse a potentially volatile situation. I appreciate the poise with which you handled yourself during the call. Nice work.
Second, feedback needs to happen as close to the event as possible. Waiting to tell someone about a performance concern until you give them a performance review is bad form as a manager. Always take the time to bring up your concerns with an employee in private as soon as possible. I will often pick up the phone after a meeting and ask my employees to talk. Some times I’ll tell them something they did really well in a meeting, others I’ll offer advice on how they could have handled a situation differently. Either way, the feedback is given almost immediately after the action occurred. I don’t like to beat around the bush. If you wait too long, the feedback will have minimal effect, as the person will have moved on, memories may become fuzzy, or the feedback has become irrelevant.
When giving feedback, it’s helpful to be open and transparent. I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes as much as possible. I will also try to relate to a time I made a similar mistake or had a similar success. Then, I’ll share my own shortcomings when I have dealt with that similar issue. In doing so, I’m hoping to build rapport and demonstrate my own vulnerability. Hopefully it puts the other person at ease and you can have a meaningful conversation about how to approach the situation differently for next time.
Last, but not least, always approach giving feedback with kindness and empathy. It’s not always easy to receive feedback – especially when it’s a critique. Make it a rule to never criticize in public. Instead, save that kind of feedback for a private conversation. No one likes being called out in a meeting in front of their peers. Note down the behavior, move the conversation along, and address the issue in private with your employee.
Resources to Help:
- Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson et al. One of my personal favorites that helped me reframe how I think about feedback.
- 9 Ways to Give Effective Feedback
- 5 Steps to Giving Good Feedback
Keep practicing! Hopefully, you’ll come to appreciate that giving feedback is an essential skill and positive results will come of it.
Until next time,
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