Giving helpful feedback is challenging for new and experienced leaders alike. Few leaders (or people, for that matter) do it well. Yet, effective feedback is essential to develop and maintain high-performing employees and teams.
When giving feedback, it is especially important that we be aware of our biases. Do you deliver critical feedback to women more often than men? To Blacks or Hispanics more often than Whites? As leaders, we need to grow and develop all team members. Focus on specific positive and negative behaviors, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability. Below, we outline 5 steps to guide your feedback process.
What Is Effective Feedback?
While it is often easy to notice what is wrong and give “constructive feedback,” the key to effective feedback is to also provide “positive feedback” to let employees know what they are doing well. It may surprise you to learn that research indicates the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio is 5:1. In essence, effective teams do require constructive feedback to stay on course and avoid complacency, and they also need 5 times as many positive reinforcements to stay motivated and driven to do a good job.
5 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback
- Be direct. To maximize effectiveness, be straightforward. The more you qualify and soften your feedback, the less your message will be fully understood. Keep it simple, clear, and direct.
- Tell them your goals in sharing this feedback. Sharing the “why” helps to put your feedback in context. When you focus feedback on team members’ growth and development, it’s more useful and constructive (and easier for them to hear) than feedback that is merely critical. In other words, begin by stating that your intention is to develop the employee, the team, or both.
- Identify the specific behavior. Focus on the behavior in question and not personal attributes of the employee. For example, “When you look at your phone during meetings, it appears that you’re not listening.”
- Clearly state the impact of this behavior. Explain how this behavior impacts you, them, others, and/or the team as a whole. For example, “When you look at your phone during meetings, the team perceives that the meetings are not important to you, and we can’t make the best decisions without your undivided attention and input.”
- Ask for their understanding of your feedback. Ask them what they heard and invite their solutions for solving the problem. This turns the conversation from feedback to one of collaboration on how to approach the issue going forward. This gives power and motivation to the team member, allowing them to become part of the solution. “What action might you take to address this scenario?”
How Innolect Can Help…
Innolect’s executive consultants are valuable, trusted advisors who can help you to develop and fine tune your skills at giving effective feedback. In addition, it is also critical that you, as a leader, know and understand your own style of communication and the strengths and pitfalls that go along with it. Our Communication Preference Profile can help you achieve this.
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