In one of my previous articles, I introduced you to “the boss” – a leader in my past who gave me orders, demanded very much from me, and expected not to be questioned. “The boss” ran a tight ship and would tolerate no back-and-forth about what I was to do.
“The boss” was my mother.
From an early age I was taught that leadership was direct, instructing, and having the final say. The leader speaks and the team member does, and that is the end of the exchange.
Safe to say that when I first became a leader, my leadership style was very direct. My instructions were direct. And my feedback, of course, was direct. I would bluntly tell my employees my thoughts, thinking little of how or when or why – I would go so far as to call it rude.
Now I cringe just thinking about it!
I didn’t know what a powerful tool for motivating employee performance that feedback was. I didn’t know it impacts a team member’s confidence, their motivation, and their results. And I didn’t know that my team members needed more from me!
I had my head down on what I thought were leader-level projects without realizing that my duty was to guide my team – and that feedback was instrumental in doing just that.
But, now I know.
Since then I have refined my feedback process to take into account the 4 keys of effective feedback…
1. Offer feedback at the right time, often.
Don’t let performance reviews and prescheduled one-on-ones be the only time your team members hear from you about how they are doing. Feedback is most effective when it is given in the moment. The sooner you can advise, the better.
Quick feedback allows for an instant adjustment, or instant positive reinforcement. This associates the feedback with the situation you’re commenting on.
Plus, studies show that your team wants to hear more of your thoughts. As many as 65% of employees in the average workplace want more feedback from their leaders, and as many as 58% of employees say that feedback only given in annual performance reviews has no effect on their job performance.
2. Make feedback specific and impersonal.
Imagine you are a cook working at your local cafe. You are going about your business when you come across an online review that catches your attention. “One star,” it reads; “My meal was overcooked. The chef should know better.”
Maybe your first instinct is to get frustrated – sure. No one likes to be told they are not doing a great job. But beyond that, you are left feeling confused, too. The critic doesn’t say when they came in or what they ate, so you don’t know how to do better in the future. You can’t explain yourself, and now, you’re feeling – almost – attacked.
This is what is going through your team member’s mind when there’s no context to your feedback. Removed from the thing you want to correct, they are left confused, unsure how to improve, and whether they will admit it or not, they are more likely to take it as a statement about themselves as a person.
What about the situation, action, or circumstance should be different? What is it supposed to look like, and why? These are ideal questions to consider when offering feedback. Your team member should walk away knowing what went wrong and how it should be done, and not feeling like they’ve been judged.
How do you communicate with your team? Do you see your input impacting them, or could they feel left in the dark? Try these keys this week to make sure your organization is getting the full benefit of feedback.
That’s all for now,
P.S. No, it wasn’t a mistake – I did promise you 4 keys to effective feedback. You will have to tune in next week for the other 2… until then, practice giving specific feedback often!
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