The Art of Giving Constructive Feedback
Receiving, and perhaps even giving, feedback can be an intimidating concept. It becomes worse when negative feedback is right around the corner. You can feel singled out, beneath your coworkers, or incapable of doing your job due to the incident.
But for a person or team to advance, feedback is frequently required. Employees will not likely improve on their own if managers do not continually provide constructive criticism. The likelihood is that improvement will take longer.
According to research, giving too much feedback can be risky, especially if it is not done carefully. Research also shows that individuals develop and grow more when their strengths are recognized. In that case, how should supervisors provide information that leads to actual change without deflating their employees? Consider these few tips down below:
Establish a Foundation of Trust
Your employees need to believe a foundation of trust has been built to offer feedback effectively. It will take time to ensure that the connection is sincere because this type of solid bond does not develop overnight.
When communication is frequent and predictably timed, the exchange becomes more fluid between you and your team, regardless of whether the conversation is positive or negative.
Influential speakers are conscious of their speech patterns, particularly their tone. Your reports will not be open to what you want to tell them if you are overly aggressive. Furthermore, managers must be willing to make adjustments if textual communication is ineffective.
Second, it is essential to deliver feedback clearly. Do not leave anything up to the imagination or speak obscurely.
When you leave your employees to their devices, their thoughts could roam around from one place to another. This is worse when negative feedback is delivered. Employees can get things mixed up and not understand the message. In the latter scenario, you might need to restate or reframe your words, which could surprise your employees the further you go.
Following up with your employees is the best way to take it one step forward. Sometimes, even calling a second meeting after delivering negative feedback is a good way for employees to gather their emotions and provide specific instructions, goals, and tactics.
Set Aside Enough Time for Conversation
It is crucial to avoid being flippant or inconsiderate when giving feedback. You must block out adequate time in your calendar and stay focused to effectively and carefully convey your message.
Be Wary of Your Feedback Frequency
As a leader, it is important not to always point out the negative. It may feel natural as you want your employees to improve, but inevitably, this tendency can lead to an impression that you are never satisfied.
Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor wrote in the Harvard Business Review: "Leaders who engage in relentless fault-finding can't help but lead to a culture of bloodless execution. (Those) who celebrate small acts of kindness and reward moments of connection give everyone permission to look for opportunities to have a genuine human aspect."
According to David Dye and Karin Hurt, authors of Courageous Cultures, the worst-case scenario in a company is "safe silence." It is when instead of countering their supervisors' potentially flawed perspectives by sharing their thoughts, employees choose to say nothing.
More often than not, the brutal, painful moments are remembered. According to research, there is a lasting impact from regularly hearing unfavorable remarks. Employees who receive a terrible email from their supervisor assume that future emails will be equally distressing. This concept could also be known as anticipatory stress or "vigilance of threat." If you even come off once as a bearer of bad news and unpleasant vibes, your colleagues could assume that all future conversations will go just as poorly.
When having difficult conversations, it is crucial to connect with your colleague and avoid overpowering them with negativity, or you risk them getting "blocked."
According to Brooks Gump, a professor at Syracuse University: "If you think bad things are going to be happening, and then (bad) things do happen, that stress gets enunciated, (you will feel) a more pronounced reaction to it."
This does not mean you should not give negative feedback, but it means ensuring you find an opportunity to complement the work well done.
It means ensuring that you have the opportunity to complement the work well done, but providing potentially critical feedback only when it is absolutely necessary.
Upon applying these suggestions, following up with your employees after providing them with feedback is the best way to take it a step forward. The value of doing such is providing them with the time they need to reflect and figure out what they need to do to perform and become better. On the other hand, it helps supervisors figure out their next course of action, from providing more specific instructions to identifying what pain points need to be improved. In the end, feedback in general is supposed to steer companies in the direction of excellence and growth, regardless of whether it is directed towards an employee or a manager.