Top Tips for Successfully Giving Teams 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?
The subject of giving and receiving feedback has been a contentious one for many years, as has the question of whether indeed it makes a difference.
Feedback is often subjective. An assessment of someone’s performance and what they should do to be better. Telling someone what we think of their performance can often not be a positive factor in their professional development, and telling staff HOW to improve can actually hinder their learning.
Instructions, critical steps, and checklists are obviously essential to many professions. You wouldn’t want a surgeon operating on you with only partial knowledge of the procedure after all. There’s a high level of feedback in the development of those kinds of processes of course. But in a typical workplace, unsolicited advice has been proven to be an ineffective way to develop staff or make improvements.
How to give feedback
We also tend to welcome feedback if it’s done in a specific way. There are two big factors in this;
1) Positive V Negative
Studies show that we’re more likely to welcome feedback if it’s positive and regular. But it also depends on how it’s delivered, and who delivers it.
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.
An ex Manager of mine was a hugely positive influence on me, I had respect for him and his approach to the business and his reports. And one thing he did very well, was to provide useful feedback. It wasn’t personal, it was specific, and it always included achievable professional outcomes. He would also follow up with me informally, and check if I’m happy and comfortable with his suggestions. It contributed to an ever more trusting relationship and an openness to receiving more feedback in future. I would seek it out after a while and he was always happy to help and provide more feedback.
Here are some effective ways to give employee feedback
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.
Ask your staff how they would like to receive feedback.
Be specific on what you want to change, and how to apply the changes.
Approach underperforming staff with empathy. Although they may have a number of strengths, 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…
Performance, not personality. Focus on the behaviour, not how you perceive their character.
Open up a conversation, and allow them to respond.
Be upfront and transparent. Often we deliver feedback as if treading on eggshells, but this undermines the message.
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.
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.
Follow up. Make sure staff know you’ve noticed the improvements. It’s a perfect opportunity to show you care about your staff’s development.
If you’d like to know more about the topic of ‘Giving Feedback’, let’s talk…