An important element of employee development is receiving relevant and timely feedback. Giving feedback is not easy for many managers, and can be downright stressful to the point where it is even avoided, leading to much more stress down the road! Listed below are helpful tips on providing effective feedback while reducing stress and anxiety for both the manager and the employee.
A work environment where everyone feels respected and has a sense of self-worth enhances job motivation and commitment. Employees who feel valued are more willing to learn from feedback rather than discount it. Before providing feedback, it is important to develop a positive relationship with your employee. An employee who has experienced multiple positive moments with their manager will grow to trust that manager and be more receptive to constructive feedback.
Provide Out of Kindness and Concern
Do you give feedback to justify your own behavior, to appease another person or to elevate your self-importance? Or, do you have a genuine concern and sense of responsibility for the employee, desiring to guide and mentor? Feedback should be given from a place of caring for your employee’s learning and growth.
Keep Anger Out of It
Too often, feedback is given out of frustration and anger. If this is the case, take a step back and reflect again on the purpose of the feedback before providing it. Confirm the feedback is based on data and insight rather than negative feelings. Remember, feedback should be about helping someone to succeed.
Pay Attention to Their Reaction
Listening is key to facilitate trust and improve communication. Observe body language, tone, and emotions while being flexible and ready to adjust based on the other person’s response. The most effective feedback becomes a two-way conversation.
The more the individual can recall the specific event, the more likely they are to learn from the feedback, clarify the actions and behaviors, and impact other individuals and the overall organization. Always try to provide feedback as close to when the incident occurred as possible. Giving feedback about a specific event months after it happens can be less accurate and confusing to the employee.
Focus on the Behavior, Not the Person
Focusing feedback on just the situation rather than the individual separates the problem from the person. When the receiver is less likely to feel personally confronted, they are more likely to accept constructive feedback.
Give Feedback From Your Perspective as the Manager
Try not to give feedback on behalf of others. If you have not observed or noticed the behavior, it becomes difficult to explain what is and is not working. Saying that you heard about a specific situation moves the focus from the issue to “who told you,” which can cause the opportunity for the feedback to be genuinely heard to be lost.
Draw parallels to your own experiences
Providing feedback is more effective when you can relate it to your own experience and growth. If you can convey that you were once in a similar position, you create a sense of emotional connection to the conversation. It also starts to build a mentor-mentee relationship, causing the feedback to be viewed as advice.
Limit Your Focus
Ideally, a feedback session should focus on no more than two issues to reduce the person’s risk of feeling attacked and demoralized. Focus on how behaviors and actions can be changed.
Most of us are familiar with how good it feels to receive the kind of feedback that helps us grow or acknowledges the growth we’ve already achieved. As the manager giving feedback, remember those times when you received positive, motivating feedback. Reflecting on your own experiences will ensure your feedback comes from a place of kindness and positive intent. As a manager, you want your employees to excel to the best of their abilities, which is accomplished through proper feedback in the right form!
Bob Greening, Vice President, USource