Top tips for successfully giving teams feedback

Tiles spelling out feedback

“Hey, can I give you some feedback?

How do you react when you hear those words? Are you happy to receive feedback regardless of who delivers it, how and how often they deliver it, and what the feedback is? Or do you expect it to be negative? Surely if positive feedback was coming, it wouldn’t need permission? A million thoughts might rush through your head the moment someone mentions to you they’ll ‘giving feedback’.

Yet in a bittersweet way, we also want to receive feedback! We all know that glowing, happy feeling when your project or work is sent back wreathed in praise and positive comments. And even if this isn’t the case, feedback let’s us know that we are valued by our team, gives us an opportunity to grow and improve, as well as learning from those more experienced than us.

For a manager or leader, the important part is giving feedback well. After all, unlocking these benefits means first working on ourselves, and being able to give feedback in a way that is understanding yet constructive. So let’s take a look- what actually works?

Giving feedback: what works?

We  tend to welcome feedback if it’s done in a specific way. There are two big factors in this;

  1. Positive Vs Negative
  2. Frequency

Studies show that we’re more likely to welcome feedback if it’s positive and regular.

In fact, the best workplace cultures encourage and empower staff to take the lead on their own development, and seek out feedback from their peers and managers. Staff should feel comfortable, confident, and secure enough in their roles to ask for feedback.

The ‘giving feedback’ framework.

If feedback isn’t currently being delivered this way, you should consider these tips, as they WILL contribute to leading a more collaborative, and high performing team. Giving feedback well not only depends on who delivers it, but how it’s delivered. Having a loose framework or checklist can be a huge help, and ensure your feedback is delivered, and received, with success.

  1. Ask your staff how they would like to receive feedback.

  2. Be specific on what you want to change, and how to apply the changes.

  3. Approach underperforming staff with empathy. They may have a number of other strengths, and exposing a big gap in their knowledge or skills could cause a damaging emotional reaction. This is a lot easier to handle if you focus on the next tip…

  4. Performance, not personality. Focus on the behaviour, not how you perceive their character.

  5. Open up a conversation, and allow them to respond.

  6. When giving the feedback, be upfront and transparent. Often we deliver feedback as if treading on eggshells, but this undermines the message.

  7. Keep it private. This goes for positive feedback and praise, as much as negative. Avoid any discomfort, but find a space to do it away from others. Some people don’t like their performance to be on display regardless of how positive, so always avoid a show where possible.

  8. Give regular feedback as and when it’s appropriate. Don’t save it for an appraisal. Immediate and informal feedback has the greatest impact on performance.

  9. Follow up. Giving feedback goes beyond one conversation. Make sure staff know you’ve noticed the improvements. It’s a perfect opportunity to show you care about your staff’s development.

No one wants their team to feel nervous or uneasy when their manager is giving feedback. But it is an important part of growth and understanding. Implementing a simple strategy can make it  much more successful for both parties.

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