For many people, giving feedback can be a very uncomfortable and awkward task. Some employees may take feedback very personally or be unresponsive to constructive criticism. Some employers may not know how to properly construct or deliver feedback, making it too personal or ineffective. When done correctly, feedback can be an integral part of communication between an employer and employee enabling both to be better at their respective positions.
How to Give Constructive Feedback
Feedback is an important piece of running a business. Your employees and staff need to know when they are on the right track and when they need to make adjustments to improve performance. Constructive feedback includes several key steps. It must not be personal. Feedback should be related specifically to the work or goals of the company and how they are or aren’t being met. You also need to be specific. The more general or vague you are, the more opportunities there are for misunderstandings.
You can help cushion feedback that is negative by including two or three positives items for every negative statement. It is critical that you give feedback thoughtfully and directly.
Giving Feedback to Staff
Staff feedback can be more effective and more easily done when you keep a couple key things in mind. Feedback is designed to benefit performance both individually and company wide. Feedback should be an established part of your company and company culture. Feedback can be given from supervisor to staff member and supervisors should be open to feedback among peer groups and relating to their own performance. This can be accomplished with the right parameters and attitude.
Feedback isn’t a free for all. No holds barred criticism is not feedback. When asking for and receiving feedback there should rules in place to make sure the things said are beneficial and not hurtful. First and foremost feedback needs to be constructive. For instance, if an employee is not meeting your performance expectations you need to communicate that. However, what you say and how you say it is important. You should not use slang or hurtful phraseology such as, “You really failed at that task and I don’t understand why. Maybe you are not smart enough for this position.” That is an example of making feedback demeaning and personal and this type of criticism should be avoided. A better way of communicating the employee’s shortcomings would be, “The job descriptions duties are not being met to my expectations. Why do you think this is?” This give the employee an opportunity to reflect on his or her struggles and talk to you about them to find a mutually beneficial resolution.
Feedback should also go both ways. In the example above, if the employee that is not meeting expectations is told that, he or she should be free to express his or her feelings about how the expectations are set and communicated as well. If a clear job description was not given and appropriate training was unavailable an employee could point to these as possible reasons expectations are being unmet. Constructive feedback is important because ultimately it can lead to better communication and more efficient team work and productivity.
There should be regular reviews with supervisors. Reviewing performance and discussing existing projects should be a regular and scheduled occurrence. Constructive feedback should be built into annual or semiannual reviews. This makes feedback more systematic and expected.
Be considerate. Schedule a meeting to discuss an employee’s performance at a time that works well for the employee. Also, be sensitive to an employee’s soft spots. As you get to know your staff you will know who has an easier time processing feedback. Treat those who struggle with feedback a little more gently. Take the time needed to form feedback that is constructive and helpful to the individual employee. Also, while giving feedback may be uncomfortable, get to the point quickly. You are not sparing your employee’s feeling or valuing their time by rambling in an effort to ease into an uncomfortable topic.
Set expectations. Feedback and the parameters of how it should be given need to be part of your company culture and explained to a potential new hire before they set foot in the door. It should be reinforced through your words and actions as you will set the tone for your business.
Giving Feedback Is Part of Being a Leader
Feedback is an important and often overlooked part of professional leadership. Without feedback your employees don’t know if they are performing their jobs successfully and contributing to the growth and stability of the company. While giving feedback can be difficult it is a worthwhile endeavor that will help your employees grown in their respective positions and you grow as a leader.
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