The Art of Effective Employee Feedback
Employee feedback is crucial to any company. One of the key roles of a leader is to deliver effective feedback. But just a pat on the back or a few good words doesn’t work. There is a proper way of providing feedback consistently that will improve employee performance. The leader must not only know when to be direct, but also know when to be positive, and when to challenge them for best results. If delivered poorly, it can cause problems that can harm employee engagement and productivity
Here are a few ways that one can offer employee feedback – it’s quick, and will help the organisation get the outcome they foresee:
Pay attention to frequency and tone
Employee feedback should be regular, task-focused, crystal clear, and to the point. By giving regular feedback, employees feel supported, reassured and guided. Giving general comments confuses them as to what aspect of their work is being questioned and if they need to improve something about the way they perform. So, be to-the-point.
Regularity helps team members accept feedback and view it in a positive light. Over time, feedback becomes part of the normal workflow as it is given when people succeed and even when they fail.
Make it one-on-one
Giving constructive criticism should never be done publicly – ever. Managers need to learn the importance of the setting in which they give employee feedback. By speaking privately, they allow the employee to express their concerns more freely, focus on the issue they need to work on, and not worry about what their co-workers think about them.
Praising employees, sometimes, also need to be delivered in a private meeting as some don’t want to be the center of attention. Although, exceptions can be made, like showing appreciation in front of the entire office to a new employee showing tremendous growth within a few months of joining.
Don’t wait for a quarterly review
Quarterly reviews are usually about managers giving overall feedback on an employee’s performance. In this scenario, day-to-day issues get neglected, and keep on piling up. And if left unsaid, the problems will only recur and may multiply by a domino effect. So, by the time the quarterly performance review comes around, the HR rep will be faced with having to address a host of issues that could have been avoided if mentioned earlier.
Another flaw in the quarterly process is that many a time, problems tend to be forgotten by the time the review comes around. By holding daily or weekly reviews, managers can keep a track and analyse the employee’s work easily, and this way, the feedback will be up to date.
Describe behavior rather than evaluate it
Giving feedback as a manager/leader is an art. If done wrongly or poorly, it can lead to the employee getting defensive, which will, in turn, make them less open to feedback in the future.
Instead of evaluating, describing the work in a fact-based way should be prioritised. For example, rather than saying, “Your strategy doesn’t seem well thought out,” the manager should say, “As I read your strategy, I noticed it didn’t contain certain elements.”
Focus on behavior rather than the person
One of the most difficult task as a manager is to deliver effective feedback and making the employee realize that there is a scope of improvement. Simply put, change is hard; creating such a dialogue that it leaves the employee feeling like they can actually apply the advice to get a better result. By focusing on their behavior rather than who they are as a person, the manager has to clearly design the feedback in such a way that it simply conveys one thing - they don’t have to change their personalities to be more effective.
Create aha! moments
The role of a manager is often like that of a coach - trying to help improve the performance of employees and climb the ladder of success. As a coach, one must challenge themselves to create at least one aha! moment every time a feedback is shared. In simple terms, the goal of the manager is to ensure that the employee always leaves a feedback conversation having learned some valuable lesson they didn’t have when the discussion began. Whether it is about themselves or their work, the employee should have a new idea or strategy in the end. This way, HR can get to know whether the efforts have paid off or do they need to up their game with the next person.
By following these steps, one can understand the art of giving effective employee feedback. With an honest, positive, specific, customized approach to feedback, managers can have a motivated and focused workforce.