Tue, 18 Jan 2022

Employee feedback, when done right, can help an employee grow professionally and make your work team stronger and more collaborative. But when done wrong, feedback can be ineffective at best, and downright insulting at worst. Managers can have a big impact on their team by providing constructive employee feedback, but many shy away from having tough conversations with their team members. Avoiding difficult conversations can be costly; effective feedback is incredibly valuable for both the individual and the team. In fact, studies have shown that employees prefer to receive negative feedback over no feedback at all, and a lack of feedback can lead to employee disengagement. When it comes to feedback at work, no news is not necessarily good news, and it can make employees feel they're being ignored.

How can you let your team know how they're doing, while keeping them engaged? Here are 12 tips from seasoned managers on how to provide feedback effectively, in a way that will help your employees grow professionally. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll help your team get even better at what they do.

Address Issues in a Timely Manner

'The best time to give feedback is right when an issue comes up. A lot of managers will wait for quarterly or annual reviews to reflect on mistakes made in the past, but this usually backfires. It's likely that neither of you will remember the specific details, and it robs the employee of valuable time for growth. Imagine hearing that you made a mistake six months ago - you would likely feel frustrated that you weren't alerted to it sooner when you could still correct it or change course. When you address issues in a timely manner, you are showing your employee that you value their growth and want to work together collaboratively.' - Jason Reposa, Founder and CEO of Good Feels

Offer Specific Examples

'Vague feedback is often worse than no feedback at all, and it usually just confuses the receiver. Be clear and direct when providing feedback, and provide specific examples of what your employee did well, or what you'd like to see improve. If you're providing corrective feedback, your employees want to know what your expectations are, and the steps they can take to better align with them. Specific examples give employees something to work with, and it shows that you are invested in their professional development.' - Katie Lyon, Co-Founder of Allegiance Flag Supply

Stay Focused and Calm

'Don't view the conversation as a time to air your grievances, and avoid jumping from one topic to another. If you're not focused, your employee will likely walk away with mixed messages. Keep your feedback focused on one or two specific instances and what you can both do moving forward. And it's important to always remain calm, even if the issue at hand is a major mistake or a recurring issue. You want your conversation to be productive, so choose a time when you can both approach the conversation objectively and with a cool head.' - Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer at Readers.com

Be Positive

'The goal of providing feedback is to help the employee grow, so don't forget to commend them on their successes and note their achievements. Don't only provide feedback when problems arise. Positive feedback can be as effective as negative feedback, and it can even make your constructive criticism more impactful. Showing your appreciation for a job well done will let your employees know you want them to succeed and that you value their hard work. When you do need to provide corrective feedback, your employee will understand that it's coming from a place of empathy.' - Dan Bladen, Co-Founder and CEO of Kadence

Come Prepared

'Remember that employees take feedback from their managers very seriously, and you should approach the conversation with the same level of gravity. Take note of the topics you'd like to discuss beforehand, and come prepared with specific examples of work they've done well, and any areas for improvement. You want your feedback to be focused and actionable, and for the employee to walk away from the conversation feeling motivated. If you come to the conversation unprepared and offer vague feedback, they will get the impression that you don't care. By coming prepared you'll show them that you take their professional development seriously.' - Daniel Sathyanesan, CEO and Founder of Winden

Don't Be Afraid to Give Constructive Feedback

'When you have constructive feedback to deliver, don't shy away from the conversation or beat around the bush. Remember the value of constructive feedback: this is an opportunity for professional growth, and employees greatly value advice that will help them improve. Be direct and clear when delivering constructive feedback, and approach the conversation collaboratively. Make sure the conversation is a two-way street, and that you let the employee share any roadblocks they might be experiencing. This is an opportunity for you both to learn how you can work together to solve a problem.' - Julie Harris, Co-CEO and Head Of Coaching at Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

'Whenever you're providing feedback, it's helpful to take a moment and put yourself in the position of your employee. Take what you know about them and use that information to shape your feedback. What are their career goals? Where did they start out, and has there been growth? If someone is in the middle of changing careers, for example, and they're learning a lot of new skills on the job, you should commend them for their perseverance and note the things they've accomplished. They're likely very eager for constructive feedback, since they know they're new to the industry. If someone is a veteran in the industry, you might need to take a more tactful approach and offer specific details. Having a sense of where they're coming from will make your feedback more meaningful.' - Rabah Rahil, CMO at Triple Whale

Hold Regular One-On-Ones

'In general, feedback is more effective when it's more frequent. Annual employee reviews can be helpful, but it's more meaningful to your employees if they get regular feedback and encouragement. Don't wait until the end of the year to let someone know they've handled an account particularly well, and similarly, don't let issues fester until they've reached a breaking point. Holding monthly or quarterly meetings will give you both an opportunity to discuss what's going well, and what areas could use more attention.' - Rachel Blank, Founder and CEO of Allara

Encourage Feedback For Yourself

'Feedback is a two-way street, and it's important to encourage your team to give you feedback as well. If they're facing bottlenecks or dealing with issues that you can help resolve, encourage them to share these issues with you. The best leaders work collaboratively with their team and are eager to find solutions that work for everyone. By fostering a healthy workplace where people feel comfortable speaking openly, you'll be a more effective leader and you'll build a stronger team.' - Matt Woods, Co-Founder and CEO of SOLD.com

Follow Up With Next Steps

'Make sure you end the conversation by outlining next steps and devising a strategy for following up. Maybe you'll plan to meet again in a few weeks to discuss progress and identify any other issues that may have come up. By outlining next steps, you'll let your employee know you're invested in the success of the team, and they will have a clear understanding of your expectations. It will also help them feel supported, while having clear guidelines to move forward with.' - Bradley Hall, CEO of SONU Sleep

Adopt a Coach's Mindset

'Be authentic when you engage in coaching. Leverage your own experience to offer perspective. Set the stage for an open dialogue by talking about your own setbacks and challenges along with those weathered by successful company leaders. This signals the vibe that employees are not in trouble; instead, they are learning. While you want to set a welcoming tone, you don't want to monopolize the conversation. While sharing your own experiences is a good tactic for making employees feel comfortable, don't assume that what worked for you will work for everyone. Remember: your role here is to listen, not to dominate.' - Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer of PMI Worldwide

Keep It Private

'Don't criticize publicly-ever. For some, even praise is better delivered in a private meeting. Some people simply don't like being the center of attention. You can also consider offering employee feedback in the form of a written response. This can give you time to reflect and offer a more thoughtful answer. Feedback isn't just uncomfortable for the receiver, it can be uncomfortable for the giver as well. By moving the location to a more informal area, you can help to alleviate some of the underlying pressure.' - David Hassell, CEO of 15Five

A strong team is one that operates with open and clear communication. Providing meaningful feedback to your team is critical if you want to work together effectively. Employees expect to receive feedback from their managers, so make sure you are delivering a thoughtful and actionable message.

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