When effectively delivered, feedback is one of the most influential ways to improve performance and develop employees. Best of all, the feedback session won’t cost your company anything but time, and it supports ongoing coaching and development efforts.
According to recent data, 75% of employees express the desire for more feedback. However, many managers are hesitant to provide feedback. Here are some ideas to make your feedback sessions easier and more effective.
Why Managers are Hesitant to Provide Feedback?
Although most employees say they want feedback, the reality is most employees really don’t respond well to it. What we really desire is positive feedback. Employees like to hear positive things about their performance. While they understand constructive criticism is valuable for their development, they don’t always appreciate hearing what sounds like criticism.
Managers understand their employees may feel uncomfortable receiving criticism and this can create a hesitancy when it comes time to deliver feedback. In many situations, a manager is worried they will risk harming their relationships with employees if they offer anything other than positive feedback, so they delay or avoid giving it.
However, delivering feedback doesn’t have to be stressful, difficult or uncomfortable. With patience and practice, managers can improve their confidence and comfort providing feedback, and employees will appreciate the improved delivery and developmental support.
Tips for Delivering Employee Feedback
- Shift your mindset from manager to coach. The first step toward better performance reviews is to start with a coaching mindset. Many managers are used to acting as evaluators, but this isn’t always the most effective approach. When you approach a performance conversation with the mindset of a judge, your employee is going to feel like they’re on trial. On the other hand, when you approach a feedback conversation with the mindset of a coach and mentor, your employee will understand you’re trying to help their development within the organisation.
- Make feedback sessions the company norm. Instead of saving feedback for a big event, such as during annual performance reviews, make delivering feedback a regular part of your day-to-day meetings and conversations. When employees and managers only converse about performance once a year, there’s plenty of time to build suspense and anxiety. These conversations tend to focus on past performance, missing the opportunity to focus on future results. When feedback is part of the daily conversation, it shifts the focus of the conversation on moving forward and what’s to come. While annual performance reviews are still critical, it’s best practice to have these conversations throughout the year (at least quarterly).
- Ask for feedback. The best way for management to establish a foundation of mutual respect is to ask for feedback themselves. Including 360-degree feedback into a session ensures it won’t be one-sided. This is beneficial for both managers and employees. When a manager actively becomes a role model for receiving feedback non-defensively, their employees will become more open to hearing their personal feedback.
- Be mindful of your language. Words carry power, especially when they come from a manager, mentor, or supervisors. The way you deliver a message has the power to motivate and power to deflate your employees. Before you meet with your employees for their feedback session, take time to consider how you will present both positive and constructive feedback. Be sure to use specific language that addresses the subject at hand. Keep the focus on resolving problems, and use measurement-oriented language. Always remain respectful, and try to avoid being overly critical, harsh, or negative. Above all else, focus on both the positive and the negative.
- Share your notes before you begin the feedback session. No one wants to feel blindsided. Having to discuss topics or answer questions you’re not prepared for can be frustrating and stressful. By allowing everyone time to prepare, you’ll set everyone up for a more effective performance conversation. Consider including:
- Questions to be answered
- Data points and benchmarks you want to review
- Event or topics you want to discuss
- Any other topic relevant to an employee’s performance
- Schedule the next conversation. Employee performance is unlikely to improve if it’s only discussed once per year. Scheduling the next feedback session will help managers demonstrate that they’re invested in employees’ continued growth and development. Additionally, this will help set the tone that employee coaching will happen throughout the year.
Great management goes above and beyond achieving numbers and keeping executives happy. The best managers take time to develop, motivate, and coach their employees. When used properly, feedback has the power to motivate your employees to exceed all expectations, while giving them a chance to grow professionally. When delivered in the right manner, everyone can benefit from both constructive and positive feedback.