What Is Feedback, And Why Is It So Important?
Feedback is typically separated into two categories: constructive and positive. In the first, managers discuss areas for improvement, while in the latter, leaders focus on personal achievements and offer praise and recognition for a job done well. 68% of employees would like to be offered more effective feedback from their managers since it inspires them and improves their productivity. Additionally, employees who receive feedback once a week report much higher engagement levels, while company attrition is reduced by 15%. Some managers find talking about negative aspects stressful and difficult and delay it until performative reviews. However, putting this process off can hinder the evolution and performance of employees and hurt corporate success.
8 Suggestions Managers Should Consider For Offering Effective Feedback
1. Be Specific
To offer effective feedback, managers should focus on specific events and behaviors an employee needs to work on. They must not be vague, saying things like “I am not happy with your performance. You need to improve.” Employees will probably feel confused by such statements and won’t know how to move forward. Instead, leaders should talk about specific occurrences and create a meaningful conversation surrounding them. They must also avoid generalizations that will most likely put people in defense mode. For example, instead of saying, “You are always late,” they can say, “You were late in the last two meetings.” For every piece of corrective feedback they offer, managers should also have a solution ready to propose and not allow employees to feel disheartened or abandoned. Giving examples and keeping a growth mindset will help employees see their mistakes as steps for development, not hurdles.
2. Be Timely
Problems and wrongdoings appear daily, and managers should discuss them with employees promptly. This means that they must not wait until the end of the month or year for the performance review. They should instead offer their constructive feedback daily or weekly and highlight the things that need to be improved or give praise for someone’s achievements. It’s irrelevant to talk in October about something that happened in July. Everyone’s recollection of events will be poor, and misunderstandings may arise. Additionally, timely feedback corrects mistakes and behaviors from the root and avoids the domino effect of recurring issues. As a result, employees have the time and opportunity to improve themselves and further develop their careers.
3. Focus On Behavior, Not Personality
Every employee comes with certain personality traits that have consequences for their quality of work. However, criticizing their character instead of their work will push them to defend themselves and drive both them and their managers away from the focal point. For example, if someone is arrogant, managers should not accuse them of such behavior but instead focus on specific moments where their arrogance appeared. Staying objective will help managers communicate their point more efficiently, and employees will receive it in a constructive way and not as a personal jab. It also shows that a manager cares about the employee and their growth and does not apply any personal criticism. Last but not least, managers must explain how such behavior is impacting corporate success and why employees must fix their mistakes to help a company improve its brand image.
4. Make It A Conversation
One of the most important steps in offering effective feedback is listening to employees and giving them a chance to express their points of view. Simply criticizing their performance and not letting them speak will push them into isolation, making them feel like their manager does not actually care about them. That’s why leaders should listen closely, and maybe they will realize that there is a reason for someone’s poor performance or a more serious underlying issue. When employees know that a feedback session is a relaxed conversation, they are more likely to explain themselves more clearly and strive to improve their workplace performance. They feel respected as professionals and human beings. Fostering such an understanding environment will allow employees to be part of the solution instead of only being told what to do.
5. Be Empathetic
A manager must have emotional intelligence, which means that they can understand and be empathetic toward people’s feelings. When leaders offer feedback, they often receive defensiveness from the other side of the table. This happens when employees don’t feel safe or feel like their character has been attacked. That’s why managers should show employees that they care about their troubles and will listen to their side of events. Maybe someone’s performance has dropped due to severe personal struggles. Managers who keep a sympathetic stance will make workers feel comfortable and eager to improve themselves. They will feel less stressed about their performance and focus both on their personal matters and professional goals. Additionally, communication between the two sides will improve, and their relationship will flourish.
6. Keep It Private
For feedback to be effective, employees must feel like they are not being judged by anyone. When managers put someone at the center of discussion, employees may feel like all eyes are on them and are criticizing their performance. Meeting 1-on-1 is preferable to help employees feel safe. Also, it’s best to avoid written feedback since this format may feel cold and distant, and the message might get lost. Whether all employees have returned to the office or they are working remotely, managers should arrange face-to-face meetings. Video calls are just as effective as office meetings. Leaders must also create a relaxed atmosphere to help themselves deliver their feedback efficiently and make employees receptive to it. Public criticism should be avoided at all costs since it puts unbearable pressure on both sides.
7. Focus On Solutions
After a manager has offered effective feedback and employees have a clear understanding of it, they should carve out solution methods together. Managers should start by making proposals and offering helpful guidance. They must also ask employees for their points of view and how they think they should move forward. Additionally, leaders should ask employees about the ways they can help along the way. Workforces need to know that managers will actively help them improve in any way possible. Managers should not give orders but create a plan with employees that best serves individuals and organizations. When employees participate in the process, their engagement will more likely increase, and their productivity will improve.
Improvement does not happen overnight, and one feedback session is not always enough to improve someone’s performance. Managers must arrange follow-up meetings with each employee and highlight their achievements and the areas that still need improvement. They should allow for a generous period to pass before offering new feedback. This will help employees work on their performance and solve the issues that need to be tackled. Not everyone has the same learning pace, and managers must be aware of each person’s requirements. If no improvement has been made, they should refrain from throwing blame. Instead, they should try a different approach. Feedback should be an ongoing process that allows both the manager and the employee to ask questions and address challenges.
Offering effective feedback is an uncomfortable procedure for both managers and employees, and that’s why it is being omitted or delayed. However, it is a powerful tool that, when utilized effectively, improves communication and builds strong and trustworthy relationships. No one can progress and develop their careers if they don’t learn how to receive constructive feedback. Managers who know the best route to giving feedback foster an empathetic environment where employees feel motivated to work harder and achieve corporate and personal goals.