What if giving feedback was something you simply took in your stride – even those difficult conversations that you dread?
In last week’s blog I explored the five main reasons why so many managers avoid giving feedback.
But what if giving feedback was a normal part of your day to day – never a big deal to deliver – just a great opportunity for improvement?
What if you knew you had a simple strategy to deal confidently with any situation and more importantly, effect real change in your team member’s behaviour?
How to give effective feedback
The strategy I learned way back when – the simple strategy that’s made me feel comfortable whenever I’m faced with a feedback situation, and given me real confidence – is focused entirely on the desired outcome, which is to inspire or motivate someone to improved performance.
It has three elements that vary only slightly depending on whether I’m giving appreciative or constructive feedback.
1. Tell the person why you’re speaking to them.
What have you seen or heard…or maybe read (an e mail or a report)?
What did you ask your team member to do and how did they do it?
What’s the reason for you giving them feedback?
2. Tell them the impact or potential impact of their actions on you, on the team, or on the business?
As you get more confident, you’ll learn to ask your team member what impact they think their behaviour has had, or will have on you, their fellow team members, or the customer.
Doing this will increase their self-awareness and ownership of the change they need to make.
3. Tell them what you want them to change or continue to do.
With appreciative feedback (praise) you’ll tell them what you want them to continue doing and why, to reinforce their good performance.
With constructive feedback, you’ll tell them what you want them to do differently to meet the required standard.
A simple example of constructive feedback might be:
‘Sue I’ve just listened to you answering the phone. You answered it within three rings which is great, but remember to use your name to make it more personal and warm, like this,
‘Good Morning Acne Consulting, Sue speaking, how can I help you today?’
And let’s hear that smile in your voice. We want the customer to want to do business with us, so we need to make them feel really welcome. Ok?’
Constructive feedback is always focused on the bit of someone’s performance that you want them to change or improve – giving them all of the information they need to do just that.
A simple example of appreciative feedback might be:
‘Well done Manjit, you answered the phone really well there. You made the customer feel welcome, you gave your name to make it personal, and I could hear the smile in your voice. Loved it! Keep doing exactly that.’
This feedback strategy is simple, and it works because it’s focused on specifics.
Specifically what you saw or heard.
Specifically what you want your team member to do differently to improve, or to keep doing.
It’s also completely focused on behaviour and not on personality. What do I mean by that?
Behaviour vs personality
As a manager you can’t change someone’s personality (according to one study that’s pretty much fixed at the age of five), but you can observe someone’s behaviour and then give them feedback which allows them to change it.
So we’re talking about feedback that’s focused on how someone has behaved, rather than who someone is, in other words ‘You did’ versus ‘You are’.
Here’s a few examples:
Personality focus: ‘You are so rude’
Behaviour focus: ‘You’ve interrupted me three times during this conversation which makes me think you’re not interested in what I have to say.’
Personality focus: ‘You’ve got a really bad attitude’
Behaviour focus: ‘When you roll your eyes and sigh when team mates suggest ideas it makes me think that you don’t respect them, and it could lead to them not speaking up in future.’
Personality focus: ‘You’re incredibly selfish’
Behaviour focus: ‘I’ve noticed that when a team mate is struggling you don’t do anything to help them, even when you are on top of your own work’
When to give feedback
- As soon as you spot behaviour that doesn’t fit your team’s values
- As soon as you see something that’s a great example of the values and standards you expect
- When you’re training someone
- When your team member has completed a task you delegated to them
In other words, every time that something needs to be said, say it – don’t sit on it!
In summary, feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, and sadly the most underused tool that you have in your management toolbox. It keeps everyone’s performance on track, keeps your standards high and keeps your team engaged and motivated.
Remember – you get the standards you tolerate.
Do one thing: Find an opportunity today to give one piece of appreciative feedback, and one piece of constructive feedback. And don’t worry if you’re not at work today – this strategy works brilliantly with friends, family and total strangers too!
NB Team Development is step 4 of a 9 step roadmap that we lead our clients along, to build the business-critical systems that will make your business scale-ready, and free you from the day to day of your operation. To learn more, visit: