It is very evident that to make work work, good communication needs to be present. Sometimes that communication comes in the form of feedback to employees and team members, but it is not always handled in the most optimal way.
When you hear the word ‘feedback’, how does it make you feel?
Oftentimes people get this pit in the bottom of their stomach when they hear terms like ‘feedback’ or ‘constructive criticism’ because of negative past experiences receiving it. And oftentimes a supervisor gets that same feeling when they realize it’s time to give their employees feedback because nobody has ever taught them HOW to do it in a way that is constructive and effective.
Without consistent and regular feedback, employees can feel ignored which leads to a decrease in morale and productivity. If they feel their employer does not care about them enough to regularly engage with them, they disengage from their role. We’ve seen it happen a million times.
So, what can we as leaders do to counteract this challenge? First, if you aren’t comfortable giving feedback, get comfortable. This could mean asking a supervisor to sit in as the “employee” so you can practice. It could mean grabbing a book or taking a class on how to give feedback. It could be asking friends or a mentor for help.
Once you feel more comfortable it’s time to make a plan and implement it. There are four things you MUST do in order to have an effective feedback session:
- Make sure your employees know that you care before you give feedback. If they don’t buy into the fact that you have a vested interest in themselves and their job performance, they won’t be receptive to hearing what you have to say, or worse, won’t take it seriously.
- Be direct. Beating around the bush doesn’t do anyone any good. The end result is usually confusion and frustration, so it’s best to approach with openness and clarity.
- Be prepared. Don’t allow yourself to go in unprepared or give feedback on the fly. Take notes over time, cite specific examples, and then practice, practice, practice. You will only get better at doing something when you consistently try.
- End on a positive note. Clearly convey what you’ve observed that they struggle with, but always highlight their strengths and what they do well.
Ultimately, no one is perfect and you are going to make mistakes when it comes to giving feedback. That’s okay, as long as you learn from your mistakes and keep trying. You will be the better for it. Your employees will be the better for it. Your workplace will be the better for it.