EefGiving proper feedback can be an incredibly beneficial tool, but if done the wrong way, it can be quite detrimental. Feedback needs to be offered in the right way for it to be effectively used successfully by an employee. If given incorrectly, it can make them feel quite defensive, somewhat attacked, and unmotivated. Good feedback has the potential to strengthen an employee and give them the tools needed to succeed, as well as help to build up communication and trust. But all too often feedback is either ignored, never given, or given negatively. To get better at giving good feedback, try following these steps.
Ensure Feedback is Specific
When giving feedback, it needs to be straight to the point and it needs to be direct. Generic comments, particularly when giving corrective feedback, can make an employee feel confused. For example, saying something like “you need to improve your work” is very general and doesn’t give any details about what exactly the employee needs to work on. Being specific when giving feedback is critical and helps you to offer guidance that can be used proactively. For example, if you’re unhappy with an employee’s ability to meet deadlines, point out that you’ve noticed that they have been late on turning in projects and then offer to work on them on their time management skills.
Keep It Private
Whatever you do, never criticize anyone in a public environment. You’re just going to end up embarrassing them and making them defensive, and you won’t end up getting a positive, actionable response. Even good feedback is sometimes best delivered in a private environment, as many people don’t enjoy being the center of attention and won’t appreciate being noticed publicly. Feedback can be uncomfortable, both for you to deliver but also for an employee to receive, so doing it in a private environment helps to take some of the pressure off. If possible, try giving feedback in a private but informal area rather than asking an employee into your office where they may feel daunted.
Make Sure Feedback Facilitates Conversation
First things first, a lecture isn’t going to get you anywhere. Your employee needs to feel respected and like they have some say in the feedback, so you need to facilitate an environment that allows for a conversation between the two of you. A conversation makes sure the employee stays feeling respected, especially if the topic of the feedback is quite vulnerable. Ensure you give the employee an opportunity to respond to any feedback that you give and ask questions. Facilitating an environment where an effective conversation happens is one of the best ways to work in tandem with your employee on coming up with a solution or a future course of action.
Focus on Performance and Never Personality
When giving feedback, always focus on behavior and never on traits that someone has personally. You never want to be seen as though you’re attacking an employee’s personal character. Give feedback with a primary focus on the employee’s behavior rather than making it seem like you’re insulting who they are. If they feel attacked personally, they are much less likely to take the feedback on board and will likely feel offended and uninspired.
Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice
One of the key reasons why employees often feel that feedback isn’t helpful is because it tends to be unsolicited. Although sometimes you will need to give feedback to an employee that they don’t see coming, you can try reaching out and asking employees how they would like to receive feedback. This allows an employee to feel like they have some control over the situation and increases the likelihood that they will actually absorb the feedback and improve whatever you’re asking of them. Providing employees with some aspect of control over how they receive feedback also helps them to feel more comfortable and a lot more confident. If you’re able to create a positive experience around receiving feedback, it’s also much more likely that employees will seek feedback out in the future, rather than you having to track them down to give it to them.
Effective employee feedback given the right way, requires a certain level of sensitivity and empathy. Feedback can actually be quite emotional for the receiver, particularly for someone who’s a little bit more sensitive or maybe doesn’t have a very thick skin. This type of situation requires that you approach feedback from an empathetic standpoint. Understand that after receiving feedback they may need some time to process it thoroughly, as they might feel emotional, particularly if the feedback is quite hard to take or very personal. You may not intend to give feedback in a personal manner, but you can’t always control how an employee takes something. Approaching from an empathetic standpoint is one of the best ways that you can avoid the employee associating the reception of feedback with a negative, upsetting experience.
Always Follow Up
If you want to see good results from the feedback that you give, it’s very important that you follow up. Never treat feedback conversations as though you’re expecting to see immediate improvement. Following up with an employee shows that you care and that you want to help motivate them to improve their work. When you do start to see improvement, make sure that you recognize that they’ve taken your feedback on board and are working on it.
In order for employees to grow, develop, and be successful, you need to give them feedback regularly. No employee is perfect, and there are bound to be aspects of their job that they need to work on. Giving feedback in the right way can empower an employee and motivate them to improve intrinsically. Delivering effective feedback can help managers and leaders to better communicate and collaborate with their employees, which in turn creates teams that perform to the best of their abilities.