Providing feedback

How to effectively provide feedback

Increase employees’ professional growth by providing both positive and negative feedback effectively.

Feedback is a highly sought-after commodity that can help provide direction for both organizations and individuals alike. Unfortunately, this resource is often given incorrectly or goes unshared in the workplace outside of formal performance reviews. Here’s how you can start delivering effective feedback that brings out the best in your employees.

Understand the importance of feedback

A manager or supervisor who doesn’t understand the value feedback delivers is unlikely to provide it. If that sounds like you, take a look at these statics from officevibe.com:

  • 40% of employees are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.
  • 65% of employees want more feedback.
  • Companies that implement regular employee feedback have 14.9% lower turnover rates.

An underperforming worker could be one constructive discussion away from producing work that meets or even exceeds expectations. At the same time, excellent employees could drift away from what they’re doing well if their positive behavior isn’t reinforced. It’s unfair to expect growth and positive results from employees if they aren’t made aware of what they’re doing right or wrong.

Be clear about the purpose of feedback

While it’s easier to enjoy giving positive feedback, our desire to be liked by those around us or to avoid conflict often results in any negative feedback being delivered in the form of the so-called “compliment sandwich.” It starts with a flood of compliments, squeezes in the relevant feedback, and then follows up with more compliments. If we expect our colleagues to find the truth in a sea of flattery, it’s unlikely we’ll get the results we’re looking for. Understand that the role of feedback isn’t to make others feel better; it’s to make them perform better.

It’s common to worry that if you give others feedback, it may be incorrect or unclear and could lead to the recipient performing worse than before. To help prevent this, objectively examine these individuals’ performance compared to what your expectations are, outline any gaps, and set aside the necessary time to prepare beforehand so that you can provide direction in clear and concrete terms.

Clarify your expectations and be specific

Write down some examples of the individual’s actions that you want to discuss. Your employee (or colleague) will likely ask for some and if you are unable to provide any, it’s doubtful that he or she will take your feedback as seriously.

When your employees demonstrate phenomenal work, pinpoint precisely what it is that impressed you and then share that information with them. Simply saying “Great job!” doesn’t let them know how they should continue to perform. If the feedback is negative, be prepared to provide solutions or guidance in finding them. Providing direction for improvement is a good way to end the discussion on a positive note.

You should also set up a specific time to present your feedback. A casually delivered piece of advice or encouragement during a meeting or in passing can be helpful, but to provide effective feedback that produces results, you’ll need to deliver it in a one-on-one setting where you have each other’s undivided attention. This allows time for each of you to hear the other out and answer any questions that may arise.

Conclusion

As a leader or supervisor, you should be striving to help your employees grow professionally. Creating an environment in which feedback is plentiful is one of many ways you can do so. It may take some time to master, but when you fully understand the importance and purpose of feedback, and put forth the effort to deliver it clearly and thoughtfully, you, your employees and your organization all can reap tremendous benefits.

If you would like to learn more about how to increase your employees’ performance through executive coaching and training, contact Marjorie Engle using the information below.

Marjorie Engle

Senior Vice President
Organizational Development & Family Business Services

Marjorie Engle guides clients and their companies through executive coaching, transition and succession planning, organizational analysis, conflict management, and corporate strategy development. A specialist in assessing and developing family councils, advisory boards and boards of directors, she has extensive experience with family-owned, closely held, and public companies across many industries, as well as with not-for-profit organizations.

Engle serves as associate director of the Kansas Family Business Forum, hosted by Wichita State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. She holds a certificate in Family Business Advising with Fellow Status from The Family Firm Institute, is a certified coach with Family Business Partners, and a certified Change Leader.

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