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Giving feedback has long been considered a negative. As the giver of feedback, we tend to feel uncomfortable and will tend to avoid it wherever possible. As the receiver of feedback, we often feel attacked and begin to get defensive. It doesn’t have to be this way! Feedback given in an effective manner helps people grow, builds trust and communication and can strengthen relationships. We all want these outcomes from feedback, but it is all about the way feedback is given. That’s why we need to know how to give feedback. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at why we need to give feedback and the best way to give feedback to employees.
As a manager you need to be skilled in giving out feedback to your employees on a regular basis. Feedback is a really powerful tool for a manager. It can motivate your employees to achieve more and do better, allows for continuous learning, validates employees and provides them with clarity on their job and performance. Not only this, but most employees actually want feedback. Studies show that 65% of employees actually want more feedback. This is because employees who experience very little feedback are often stressed due to a lack of “clear expectations, support, coaching or meaningful feedback”. So with all of this in mind, it’s time to learn how to effectively give feedback to employees and reap the benefits of it!
Feedback given incorrectly is going to incite defensiveness and stubbornness within the receiver. There are a number of ways to avoid these negative reactions to feedback. Here are a couple of our best suggestions for giving effective feedback:
Giving feedback in a public forum takes an uncomfortable situation to a humiliating situation. Moving to a private setting is going to alleviate the pressure off of you and is going to make your employee feel a little less uncomfortable. This is particularly the case with introverted people, as even praise in a public setting can be stressful! Choosing a private setting is always going to be the right choice and a good start to the feedback process.
Feedback should always be very specific and easy to understand. By simply saying “you’re doing a bad job” or “your work needs to be improved” your employee is going to be left confused about what exactly it is they’re doing wrong. That's why being specific is so important. Explaining exactly what the issue is and how to improve upon the situation is going to show your employee what has been done wrong and how they can apply the feedback in the future.
As you know, giving feedback is a very uncomfortable process, but it can be even more so when receiving it. Your employee is learning that they have a gap in knowledge or in their skill level and it leads to a very emotional reaction. This might be a level of sensitivity, defensiveness or confusion. It’s important for managers to understand this before giving feedback so they can approach the situation with empathy and caution. Be prepared for your employee to have a negative reaction. This doesn’t mean that they won’t take on your feedback, it just means that gap has been revealed to them. Showing some empathy can make this process less painful for both parties.
Lecturing someone on everything they are doing wrong just isn’t going to work. It displays a level of disrespect and doesn’t allow the feedback receiver to respond, ask questions and work with you to find a solution. It is a far better strategy to actually open up the conversation and speak with them and is going to provide you with those awesome benefits of providing feedback!
Ensure that the feedback isn’t personality based, but is focusing on behaviours. It probably isn’t going to help if you’re telling an employee that they’re being rude to you, but it might help to tell them that when they talk over the top of people in meetings, they are causing an issue. By giving feedback on someone’s personality, it’s likely to cause them to get defensive or offended. Discussing their behaviour and ways to amend it is far more likely to be effective.
Timing is extremely important in most things in life, and it's just as important when giving feedback. Try to give the feedback straight after an event. Not just because people like hearing feedback soon after an event, but because it can be harder for both you and your employee to remember specifics and thus come up with an actionable plan. By giving feedback in a timely manner, you have a better shot of your feedback being effective.
You could just give feedback to an employee and then go on about your business, but how do you know they have taken on your advice? Make sure you follow up with them, to ensure the plan you have made is being actioned. Sometimes feedback may be hard to implement and it will take time, so ensure you are giving your employee enough time to improve, but still check in with them along the way. You want your employee to feel supported and that you care about their success, so follow up with them on a regular basis.
Giving and receiving feedback is undoubtedly an uncomfortable process for most people. Effective feedback is given in a respectful, clear and timely manner. By giving effective feedback, we are likely to see motivation and growth among employees and build a level of trust and communication between employee and employer.