One of the most difficult parts of managing employees is giving constructive feedback. Communication is key to healthy work relationships and a productive environment, so knowing how and when to give feedback is crucial for ensuring happiness within your team.
Here are five tips for giving and getting useful employee feedback.
GIVE FEEDBACK OFTEN
Don't wait for a quarterly or annual review to give feedback. Give it daily or weekly, as often as you have it. Experts agree that the yearly performance review is the worst time to surprise an employee with negative feedback. The best time to give any feedback is right after a situation or event has occurred. Keep in mind that when you provide feedback on a regular basis, it won't always be a major compliment or criticism. Often it will be simple, but constructive. Pointing out a good idea or suggesting an adjustment is often all your employees need to keep moving in the right direction. The goal should be to continually communicate openly and honestly about ongoing projects. You'll soon get to a point where you don't even think about it as giving feedback.
Broad, general feedback isn't helpful because it provides no context and can be misinterpreted. Try to address actual situations. Give your employees specific examples of things they've done that you like and those things they've done that could have been better approached. For example, let's say one of your employees handed in project deliverables later than the agreed upon deadline. Instead of simply telling this person they need to work on time management, talk to them about that specific project. Outline what your expectations had been, recap the ways in which you communicated the deadline and ask them why they were late. This helps them understand the seriousness of it, and gives you an opportunity to help them identify why the deadline wasn't met so that they can plan better next time.
KEEP IT POSITIVE
Not to say that you always need to be positive, as that’s nearly impossible. But a negative interaction may cause your employee to harbour bad feelings, so if you want to motivate someone show them what they’re doing right. When you need to give negative feedback, do so wisely and privately. If you don’t, you may see them start to turn out poor quality work, which won’t help you or your business. The key takeaway of this point is to give praise generously and publicly. It’s not only beneficial for your employees, it’s also a great way to remind yourself of the positive contributions each person makes on your team.
CREATE NEXT STEPS
If you’ve given an employee corrective feedback, make sure they have realistic, actionable next steps they can take to improve their performance. Doing so can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one. Be honest and clear about what needs to be done and how they should meet your expectations. Once again, focus on being specific. Create timelines, milestones and deadlines so you both can track progress. Achieving concrete goals and focusing on solutions, rather than problems, will make your staff member a stronger employee and a better teammate.
LISTEN TO YOUR STAFF
Remember that feedback should work both ways. If you want to lead, motivate and inspire, you not only need to know how to speak to your team, you need to know how to listen to them. For many leaders, hearing feedback from their staff can make them feel defensive. Make sure you’re in the correct mindset before you meet with an employee and ask for feedback. If that seems a bit too much to tackle right now, you may want start your listening process by using anonymous surveys. This is a place for employees to weigh in on topics like satisfaction with their managers and happiness in their jobs. You can then publish the results and let your staff know what actions you’ll take to address their feedback.