Feedback is great for your team — it helps them grow as people (and as employees), improve their work and address any areas of concern that could detract from performance.
Establishing an open feedback culture is one of the keys to better employee engagement and retention; if employees feel that their organisation is invested in their development, they are more likely to commit in the long term and give their best. Plus, if your employees feel they are free to express their opinions on how the organisation or leaders can improve, you’re one step closer to creating clear, effective communication across your organisation. Everyone wins!
The only problem? Not all feedback is good, and your leaders may struggle with delivering criticism in a productive way. No one wants to be the bad guy, which is why it can be so hard to deliver what can feel like bad news or a personal attack.
Luckily, giving feedback is a set of skills that can be honed and refined through training and practice. Here are five tips to get started!
- Don’t make it a special occasion.
Gone are the days where you waited for a performance review to tell an employee all the things they need to improve on — assess performance regularly. Have a conversation with employees and establish a system that all parties feel comfortable with.
By giving regular feedback, not only do leaders get better at giving it, but employees become accustomed to hearing it. This allows them to fine-tune their performance in real time and feel as though they are making more progress.
- Empathy is key.
The delivery of feedback is essential. Understanding where the other person is coming from and actively listening to any concerns they have, rather than just telling them where they are going wrong, can improve the response. This should be a conversation, rather than a one-way speech!
- Be straightforward.
Being able to give honest, clear — and most importantly, actionable — feedback is a skill that requires time and practice. Try to avoid being too blunt, but don’t beat around the bush either.
Start by addressing the specifics: what do you want to see an employee do to improve? What steps can they take, and what do you need to do to help them get there?
- Create a balance
While negative feedback may take precedence because of its effect on performance, never underestimate the power of positive feedback.
If an employee only ever gets negative feedback, they may feel attacked and as though their efforts are not being recognised. Don’t take the good for granted and make sure that you comment on both.
You shouldn’t necessarily use a feedback sandwich here (praise, negative feedback, praise), as this can undermine your message. Just make sure that you are putting positive feedback into your mix, and let employees know that you notice their progress!
- Encourage others
Feedback shouldn’t only be coming from your leaders; peer-to-peer feedback has its place. By providing a space for teams to come together to acknowledge others’ successes and areas that can be improved — including your own — you can help them practice their skills and encourage better communication overall.
Want more tips for delivering feedback? TrainEQ’s Difficult Conversations course will set up your employees with the tools they need to tackle any situation.