Delivering Effective Feedback
One of the most difficult skills for a manager is knowing how and when to deliver both positive and constructive feedback. Unfortunately many managers still avoid having the difficult conversations about performance until an annual appraisal or review when it’s often too late to rectify issues and modify behaviours. In order to improve employee engagement, morale and effectiveness it is best to deliver instant feedback, whether it is positive or constructive, and definitely not in front of all the individuals’ colleagues.
If feedback is not given in a timely way, or is of poor quality, any information on a gap in performance between objectives and actual behaviour and output is usually not well received. The individual may become defensive, angry, upset or demotivated. In addition the individual may not learn from a mistake, nor make any progress and work relationships may suffer.
Feedback should encourage self-reflection and increase self-awareness; it should also provide a learning opportunity and reinforce key strengths, as well as monitoring achievement of key objectives and clarify the effects of certain behaviours.
An acknowledgement of good work completed with a simple ‘thank you’ is proven to increase discretionary effort and encourage people to go the extra mile; but often teams are on to the next task or project and individual and team success is not outwardly identified, appreciated or celebrated.
If performance needs improving then follow these 10 Points to deliver constructive and effective feedback:
- Describe specific current behaviour:
Identify exactly what was said or done, or not said or done.
- Don’t accuse:
Use ‘I noticed….’ Not ‘You always forget to…’
- Identify very specific times, places, circumstances:
‘I noticed just now that when you spoke to our main client you didn’t call them by name.’
- Describe the actual behaviour and the consequence of the behaviour using neutral words:
‘It would sound more professional if we all used his name when he visited the office.’
5. Remain assertive if the individual complains:
‘I understand that you’re busy and have an increased workload recently, but it’s important to…’
- Emphasise the impact on the department or company:
‘When/if this happens it has a knock on effect on …’
- Ask the individual to identify alternative behaviour and options for improvement:
‘What do you think would be a better way to greet the client or…deliver the report?’
- Appraise the performance not the person:
Don’t be personal or unethical or give feedback on something someone cannot change. Concentrate on behaviours that can be changed and focus on actions taken and the need for corrective measures.
- Consider the Timing:
Avoid giving constructive feedback ‘on the hoof’ if the recipient is already upset or late for a meeting.
- Offer ongoing support and review in 2 – 4 weeks time:
Identify who can support the individual. Incorporate the feedback in to their ongoing personal development plan.