Everyone keeps saying how important the feedback is, but why? If you ask your colleagues, they will probably say that they rarely receive any feedback from their managers and when they do, in most cases it’s irrelevant. However, what most people don’t realize is that feedback yields great power and if given properly, it can be a multipurpose tool. On the other hand, poor feedback can lead to frustration. But what is feedback and how should we use it?
First, if you’ve ever heard your manager say: “You’re doing a great job!” be aware that it’s not proper feedback. Why? Let’s take a look:
1. Be Specific
If you hear that you’re doing a great job, what does it really mean? There’s no way of understanding what exactly you’re doing well so the chance of you repeating this behavior is slim. And the problem is – using the blur words like “great” and “good”. They are too vague and do not provide you with actual information. What if instead, they tell you that you are particularly great at establishing long-term relationships with the customers? Now it’s more specific and you understand that this is your strong suit that your manager appreciates the most. It makes it easier to repeat this behavior which will lead to an increase in productivity.
Alternatively, it also works vice versa. When you hear a negative comment that your job is done poorly, you can’t fix it because you don’t understand what exactly you’re doing wrong. So next time make sure to ask your boss for clarification.
Overall, remember that the best kind of constructive feedback focuses on behavior or situations, not people and personalities.
2. Ask Questions
It’s important to remember that feedback givers and receivers are in a dialogue, not a monologue. As a feedback giver, your responsibility is to create a safe space for a feedback receiver, otherwise, a part of our brain called the amygdala will consider it a threat and the feedback receiver will start being defensive. To avoid this, make sure to phrase your comments in the form of questions. Instead of just saying: “You’re not bringing enough customers” paraphrase it into a question: “Why do you think our customers’ numbers are low this month?”.
When the comment is presented in the form of a question, the feedback receiver is under the illusion that they have the control, which empowers them and reduces the stress which in turn will lower their defensiveness.
3. Show Impact
Every feedback giver wants feedback receivers to take them seriously. The best way to do it, is to show the scale of the influence of feedback receivers’ decisions. It’s very similar to the butterfly effect and you need to show how one little thing can have an immense impact. If an employee didn’t do the task according to the agreed deadline, instead of just saying: “I’m very disappointed that you didn’t send the report at the required time”, try saying “Because you didn’t send the report at the required time, our accounting team had to work 5 extra working hours of overtime which led to extra expenses of $X.”. Next time, this employee will take the manager’s tasks more seriously.
4. Do it Regularly
In general, regular meetings with employees are essential for every manager. However, you don’t necessarily have to have one meeting in three months to give feedback. It’s important that your comments are given in a timely manner to provoke a change in employees’ behaviors. Nevertheless, make sure that it’s always constructive, and don’t forget to follow all the steps mentioned above.
However, make sure that you have at least one meeting a month dedicated only to giving and receiving feedback. Why? Because instead of giving impulsive comments throughout the month, as a manager you’ll be able to have a bigger picture and give more constructive feedback. As an employee, it’ll give you a chance to reflect and comment.
5. Be Honest
Feedback simply doesn’t work if both parties are not honest with each other. It’s natural for a feedback giver to try and sugarcoat what they say because they’re scared to offend the feedback receiver. However, if the above-mentioned ways are followed, the feedback receiver won’t get defensive and take it as an area for their professional growth and not as an insult.
Overall, remember that the best kind of constructive feedback focuses on behavior or situations, not people and personalities. It is a way to help someone improve their performance without hurting their feelings.