Tips For Managers On How To Give Employee FeedbackReading Time: 3 minutes
Why should managers give employee feedback? We consider feedback as something highly valuable which might possess the key to improve ourselves at work. Such precious insight might not be easy to come by and couldn’t be obtained any other way. But it doesn’t have to be. If you want to provide employee feedback that will benefit employees immediately and in the long run, consider the following tips.
Stating the obvious
It won’t hurt to be respectful when delivering employee feedback. The intention of giving feedback is not to misjudge, mistreat, humiliate, insult or seek revenge. The intention of giving feedback is to be helpful and useful to improve work-related issues such as overall experience, individual performance, productivity, team work, collaboration, operations, and communication. In addition, it won’t hurt to be in a state of mind that invites calm, empathy, composure, clarity and openness to dialogue as opposed to confrontation. For example, simple things like closing the door for a quiet discussion or controling the tone of voice could help diffuse tension.
Back it up
Feedback shouldn’t be gratuitous if it aims to be professional, meaningful and taken seriously. What needs to be said in the context of providing employee with useful feedback? Preparation is key. Document each point raised with tangible evidence. Focus the feedback on the action, not the person. Focus the constructive comments on the task at hand, the tool used, the mistake made, the error of judgment, the words mispoken, the negative point to be improved upon, rather than make the issue about the employee as a person.
Next, complement identifying each issue by explaining the specific rational behind why something is wrong or why an issue is so important. Then, allow space for reactions and questions. Finally, provide solutions or suggestions to address each issue, as well as support available to them, or seek ideas from the employee to make sure the employee understands and you are on the same page.
Getting to know one another
A myriad of factors play into giving feedback. What’s the best way? It depends! It Depends on the nature of the feedback. What kind of feedback is it? Does in involve a delicate subject matter? If it is about a technical detail that takes a few seconds to fix, it could be effective to address it right away.
For example, it could be a short and sweet memo addressed to all, like “Hello everyone, just a quick and important reminder not to leave confidential information on your desks at the end of your day. Thanks a bunch!” Or, if meant for someone in particular, “Hey, Ben, would you mind filling the paper tray of the printer when you see it is empty next time? Just to make it easy for the next person that will need it. Thanks!”. If it concerns a delicate subject, find a setting or a moment that is the least stressful, constrictive, threatening or confrontational.
It always depends…
It depends on the nature of the relationship. Depending on the person delivering the feedback, it might be misconstrued, feel out of place or taken lightly. How would you describe the relationship between managers and staff? How well do they know each other? Also, how aware or involved are they of each other’s tasks, responsibilities and work lives? What level of management does their collaboration involve? Should feedback be only provided by the managers? How about peer-to-peer reviews? Adapt the way to give employee feedback according to the dynamic of work relationship between the specific manager and employee.
It depends on employees’ preferences, personalities and reactions. Some prefer managers to use direct communication, be upfront and deal with feedback as problems occur. Others might be more sensitive or on the defensive. Find out by asking them what style of delivering feedback makes them comfortable, what feedback could help them with their challenges at work. How about a survey? Another suggestion is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. As an employee, how would you like to receive feedback? What feedback would be helpful for the job position/career/team/organization going forward?
The ‘sandwich model’
Some managers adopt the sandwich model as a useful strategy to deliver employee feedback. Whether it has to do with someone’s overall performance like annual reviews or a more specific issue like the handling of a particular project, client or event, the model involves highlighting negative elements sanwiched between positive elements of the feedback. This method of feedback could be viewed as a tactful approach. It’s meant to make sure the feedback is being received as a ‘constructive criticism’ rather than as a personal attack. It starts with the employee’s strong points which may also include compliments, follows with points or areas to improve, and ends on an overall positive note to reinforce positive behaviour.
Employee feedback takes many forms, evolves rather than stays static, and goes both ways. Experiment with different ways to strengthen a supportive system with more frequent positive feedback and you’ll start noticing some promising changes.