As a manager or leader, one of the most valuable things you can give your employees is feedback. I’m not talking about annual performance reviews. If you had to wait a year to know how you performed, you’d quickly lose motivation and interest! I’m talking about spontaneous feedback about a specific project or piece of work, whether that’s positive or negative.
As well as increasing morale and motivation, feedback increases self-awareness and helps us to improve our skills and be better at our jobs. Yet we know that giving effective and constructive feedback can often be difficult.
Below are six strategies for giving successful employee feedback.
Understand why you are offering feedback
Giving feedback serves two purposes: 1) to improve the skills of a particular employee, or offer encouragement and motivation or 2) to improve overall business performance. If your feedback doesn’t contribute to either of these, you may need to question why you’re giving it. Some managers can be in danger of ‘critical overload’ or feedback that is subconsciously biased towards an individual.
Giving feedback doesn’t have to wait for a formal meeting. It can be done spontaneously. If the feedback is negative, you need to give careful thought as to how to communicate it in a way that is constructive and what they can do to improve. But there’s nothing wrong with praising an employee off-the-cuff (and even publicly) to acknowledge their efforts and outstanding work.
Don’t assume that everyone wants positive feedback
Some employees are highly driven and want to be challenged so they can reach their goals and higher positions within the business. Their aspiration may be to manage a team, but in order to do this, they need to stretch their skills. For those employees, constructive feedback is going to help them grow and they may require more of this type of feedback than words of encouragement.
Give actionable feedback
When giving feedback it’s important to say specifically what they should do differently in order to improve. You should always give pointers that the employee can work on and follow up your feedback to ensure they understand what to do.
Be willing to listen
Don’t just dish out feedback without listening to how they feel about it. They may have good reasons to disagree with you, or there could be a lack of resources in the business that has prevented them from doing their best job.
Consider how you might feel if you were given this feedback. Is it motivating you or deflating you? What can you say that makes them feel inspired to do better? By putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll deliver the feedback gently and not overly critically.
Giving effective feedback is not always something that comes naturally to everybody. It is a skill that can be learnt. If you would like help on a particular situation or how to implement a culture of continuous feedback within your organisation, contact us to find out more.