Giving Feedback
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How To Give Highly Effective Feedback At Work

Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. – Morihei Ueshiba

G

iving feedback is an art. Anyone who knows how to give the kind of feedback that challenges but still comforting has a rare gift. This is because the word feedback has negative connotations and is usually associated with criticism, wrongdoing, and disapproval. However, feedback isn’t only about a kick in the rear. There is also a pat on the back for a job well done, but the latter doesn’t seem to matter as much.
 
One study by the University of Minnesota found that employees reacted to negative comments and interactions with their bosses six times more strongly than positive ones. This poses a challenge to employers, leaders, and managers: Should you be too cautious in giving employee feedback? What about honesty? What about performance? How do you strike a balance?
 
Giving feedback may be tricky but leaders must not shy away from them because more and more employees understand its value. A survey at Ernst & Young published in the Wall Street Journal shows young workers, Gen Y and Millennials, begging for more feedback. The study revealed that 85% want frequent and candid performance feedback and 65% also believe that “detailed guidance in daily work” is important.
 
True leaders and managers understand the power of feedback: how it increases productivity, transforms the workplace, and inspires employees. They also know that there is a certain way to do it.
 

Be Honest At All Times

 

be honest

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Whether it is positive or negative feedback, you have to be honest. Sugarcoating your remarks will get you nowhere. You have to be careful with your tone and your words but you are not inclined to win a congeniality award. Employees can see through all the embellishments and when they do, don’t expect them to take you or what you said seriously.

You Have To Truly Care

 
Your employees must know and feel that as a leader, you genuinely care for them and their work. If you are giving feedback to improve an employee’s output, then that employee will shine through. Remember that as leaders and managers, you are also mentors for career growth. Companies like IBEX, a BPO company in the Philippines, show how much they value their employees by mentorships and advancement programs. In short, giving feedback must come off as something you are doing because you value them and their place in the company.

Start With A Compliment

 
Before you call an employee to your office to give him negative feedback, try to look back at what happened and what he did right. There has got to be something. According to management consultant Sally Narodick, compliments put feedback sessions at the right track—it also relaxes everyone.




Define Your Purpose

 
You must have a purpose for giving a feedback, for example, a certain action is not consistent with the vision of the company or the team. In a call center company for instance, if your goal is to give employee feedback for better customer satisfaction, then say so. Tell them how their action was inconsistent with that goal. In short, do not give negative feedback just because you want to. Venting out criticisms without a clear purpose or just to make you feel better creates a culture of resentment.

Learn How To Listen

 
Feedback sessions should always be a two-way process to be effective. If it is something that an employee did wrong, it would be great if you will hear his or her side first. No manager can give a highly-effective feedback if he doesn’t listen and pay attention. You have to come from an empathic place and appreciate what the employee is trying to say. Uncover the root of the problem and ask questions.

Factual and Specific

 

factual

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Stick to the facts and never speculate. For example, don’t go as far as saying: “you were late because you don’t love your job.” Employees also react better to specific feedback rather than the vague ones. Tell them exactly what you want and be specific with the improvements you require. At the same time, give your feedback immediately before it piles and blows up.

Lead By Example and Be Credible

 
Do not be that leader or project manager who just put his foot down just because he has the right to. For your feedback to be credible, you have to understand and appreciate everyone’s place in the team or company. Don’t try to drive change if you have no idea where you are coming from. Credibility and trust takes time and it also takes leading by example.

Brainstorm and Avoid “Blamestorming”

 

brainstorm

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Never ever put your employees or members of your team on shame. Never blame and instead focus on solutions. Don’t make them feel any more upset than they already are. Talk about the problem and conflicting opinions and agree on how you can work together to resolve the issue.

Ditch Email and Status Posts

 
Giving employee feedback must be done in person and as much as possible, in private. There are regular evaluations that you are required to fill out as a manager but your observations should not be given via email. Feedbacks sent by the said medium can be easily misunderstand creating further problems. When you are frustrated, avoid from posting anything on social media that obviously targets just one person or incident. If you want to be an effective manager and leader do not shirk from any confrontation.

Accept Feedback, Too

 
Encourage team members and employees to also give feedback about the team, about projects, and about your leadership. In as much as you provide feedback, you must also be more than willing to accept it. Listen and appreciate.

Move On

 

move

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As much as possible, don’t let a feedback session end on a negative note. End the way you started — always positive. Recap the facts, mention again the terms of how you both agreed to work on things, and reiterate your shared goals and objectives. Assure your employee that he is valued and that you trust him.
 
Feedback is a double-edged sword. It could only work if done correctly. Otherwise, it could cultivate a culture of resentment, disrespect, and anger. Always remember that employees provide a company’s competitive advantage and giving employee feedback is essential to career growth and a company’s progress. Strive to instill the importance of feedback in each and every member of your team.
 
John Anderson

John Anderson is a Web Developer, Creative Content Director and a Commissioned Artist. He is particular in watching web and social media changes and uses. He is interested about various internet trends and enjoys his day job as a cartoonist and commissioned artist. Follow him on Twitter.

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