Four Keys to Giving Great Feedback
Like never before, today’s employees don’t just ask for, but demand, constant manager feedback. They seek confirmation and enouragement to their work, their ideas, and their projects.
Here are four keys to giving all employees great feedback.
1. Be Positive
Studies indicate that we hear “No” four to seven times more than we hear “Yes.” Even with our children, it is so much easier to catch them doing wrong (“Stop that!” “Put that down!” “Don’t do that!”) than to catch them doing it right (“Good job not spilling your drink.” “I love the way you play quietly with your toys.”).
The same is true with our employees. They yearn for positive feedback on what they do well, yet they often hear the negative far more often. I suggest you attempt a 3:1 ratio of positive-to-negative feedback. Then your employees will learn that they are more likely to receive a pat on the back rather than a kick in the backside, and are therefore far more likely to do good work and achieve great results.
2. Be Constructive
Destructive, mean-spirited, intimidating or demeaning feedback destroys morale, team spirit and productivity. Moreover, it destroys your ability to effectively lead your team to achieve great results. In all cases, phrase your feedback so as to help the person; never to tear them down.
3. Focus on Behavior, Not Personality
Even though you may think an employee is an unmitigated jerk, feedback should focus on their behaviors. Why? Because people can change behaviors—they can’t change their personalities. For example: Steve, your top employee, is often pig-headed when it comes to implementing process changes. Rather than approach Steve and say, “Guy, you need to be less pig-headed,” a far better and more productive approach would be, “Steve, I wish you could help me and be a little more open-minded toward the changes we need to implement.” This takes energy away from trying to change Steve’s personality (who he is) and channels it toward something he can do (being more open-minded).
4. Be Non-Judgmental
Suspend your internal judgments and focus only on the issue at hand. For example: you many not approve of a particular employee’s hairdo, choice of jewelry, style of music, or even lifestyle choice. These issues, and dozens more like them, seldom have any direct consequence on performance, and they should not have any direct impact on your feedback to them at work.
Discover the Six Skills Every Manager Must Master
To learn more on how to give and receive employee feedback and communicate like a pro, download Management 24/7: Six Skills Every Manager Must Master.