As a leader, giving feedback should be as natural and normal as drinking a cup of coffee every morning. Those that you lead expect that you’ll tell them how they’re doing. You should want to give them feedback because it’s the only way that they’ll get better and make steps toward improvement.
So, here are 5 keys to giving feedback:
1. Feedback includes positive things, too. It’s easy to fall into the rut of thinking that feedback should only come when someone does something wrong. There are many advantages to delivering positive feedback as much as or even more than you do negative feedback, but the biggest one is that people will receive the negative feedback much better if they’ve also been hearing about things they do well or right. I am believer that you can find something positive about everyone you lead…otherwise, they shouldn’t be on the team.
2. Use the sandwich technique when delivering negative feedback. No matter how good the team member is, everyone needs to hear about what they could improve on. This is often times viewed as negative feedback. I’m a firm believer in the sandwich technique when giving negative feedback. That is, you put the negative feedback between 2 positive comments about their performance. This softens the blow and helps the conversation to be better received. Of course, you want to be sure that they got what you’re saying, so be sure to check for understanding too.
3. Don’t get personal. When giving feedback, don’t get personal. Keep it work-related feedback. When you get personal, they will get personal. If you keep it work-related, they will get that you’re not attacking them, but that you’re really interested in helping them get better. Offer your help too. Don’t just tell them what they’re doing wrong and then leave them to figure it out. You’re the leader and you need to be an active participant in helping them achieve your expectations. Also, as you’re giving feedback, be personable and open to questions. The worst thing you could do is to start out by being defensive.
4. Give feedback regularly and often. Feedback should be a natural part of your leadership. And, the more you do it, the easier it will get. You should do it regularly and often – i.e. do it in your weekly meetings with team members, do it as you’re working with your kids on their homework, do it during recaps of major events or moments in your business, etc. Do not use the annual performance review as the only time that you give feedback…especially negative feedback.
5. Use the annual review as a way to recap all of the feedback you’ve given over the last 12 months, only. First, if you don’t use an annual performance review, you should. You can contact me for help with this. But, the annual review should be a review of all of the regular feedback that you’ve given over the past year. In other words, there should be no surprises on the annual review. Nothing should be new for the employee or team member. It is simply a written conversation about what has been discussed over the last 12 months and a way to collaborate on setting some goals for the next 12 months.
How do you give feedback? Would you add anything to this list? Who have you worked for that has done this well and how did they give feedback?