Employees need specific and descriptive feedback if they are going to master a skill or achieve a goal. But this type of one-to-one feedback is sometimes missing in many organizations. Ask managers why and you’ll hear a variety of different reasons including a lack of confidence in how the feedback will be received, no clear process to follow, and concerns that the conversation might be perceived as evaluative and judgmental. The net result is hesitation on the part of the manager and feedback that is never delivered.
Providing good feedback does not occur naturally or by default. To provide effective feedback, leaders must learn, develop, and cultivate very specific conversational skills.
Here are three tips:
Start with Some Self-Examination—many managers get off on the wrong foot because they focus more on their own needs than the needs of the person receiving the feedback. To address this, ask yourself, “Is this my need to give this feedback, or am I giving this feedback because the other person’s performance will actually benefit as a result of it?”
Match the Feedback to the Situation–Once a manager is clear on the purpose of the feedback, the next step is to provide the type of feedback that will best meet the needs of the recipient.
Personalized feedback is the type that most managers are familiar with. This is evaluative information (either praise or redirection) designed to encourage good behavior or discourage poor behavior.
Pure feedback is a new concept for most managers. It is feedback that is descriptive, objective, factual, and nonjudgmental. This kind of feedback allows the receiver to decide what to do with it. It is most appropriate when the goal of a manager is to develop an independent person who can judge for themselves how they are doing.
It might sound something like this, “You did this. You didn’t get the result we expected. Let’s troubleshoot it, let’s brainstorm it. What’s going on? How can we achieve the goal doing something else?”
Get in the Habit–Finally, managers need to get in the habit of giving constant feedback. Learn to give feedback in the moment instead of saving it up for formalized performance reviews.
The good news is that managers can give almost any kind of feedback if they keep the judgment and the blame out of it. The key is to come at the question of feedback figuring that people have the best of intention and that people are always doing the best that they can given the information, skills, and competencies that they have at their disposal.
Also learn more about feedback and listening skills in an upcoming webinar on The Manager’s Tool Kit, Part One: Listening and Feedback