Feedback is a pretty essential thing in order to make people feel like they’re cared for, and that they’re doing a good job. Positive and critical feedback both helps an individual learn how they can improve and grow while understanding that their manager is investing in them.
However! Feedback isn’t so cut and dry. Have you ever seen those funny drawings of ineffective client feedback on a design? So, how do we deliver feedback that’s actionable, helpful, and above all, considerate?
- Consider the Person – does the individual clam up when they receive feedback? Do they become defensive? Are they open to feedback? Are they their own worst critic? Understanding the employee you’re evaluating will help you figure out how much to dial-up or down the pressure around your feedback.
- Consider the Situation – when something happens in the workplace that requires attention, always take into consideration the other parties and extenuating circumstances at play. It’s possible those factors had a larger effect on the employee’s response and they’re things they cannot control.
- Open the Floor – feedback can be delivered, but it also can be conversed. When you deliver feedback it’s great to also ask the employee how they feel about the feedback. Not only does it give them an opportunity to address anything concerning in your feedback, but you’ll learn a bit more about how they take feedback.
- Discuss a Plan – after the feedback has hit the floor, how do you ensure that the employee understood and agrees? A great way is to discuss how your employee will take this information and act moving forward. If they’re stuck on what to do next, you can review the situation that required feedback and discuss what could have been done differently. Let the employee lead with how they’d handle the situation differently rather than demanding a change. That way, the employee feels empowered that they have created a good plan (that you approved) to move forward with.
- Connect – do a quick check-in after all of this. How is the employee feeling? Are they frustrated, excited, sad? Make sure that they know this conversation was for growth and improvement, and offer another time to connect if they’d like to discuss further. It’s important that they understand there’s more space to discuss.
One last thing. It’s really important that when you’re delivering feedback to understand that you can really only deliver feedback to someone’s role, not their person. I.e. if Susan has a really annoying voice, you cannot tell her to change her voice (that’s impossible!) However, if Mark’s talking non-stop in client meetings and talking over others, you can chat about keeping his communications in meetings to be a little bit more concise and offering space for discussion.
Good luck on your feed-backing!