How To Give Effective Feedback To Your Team

There are four essential habits of effective managers which save businesses time and money, build excellent relationships in the workplace, and improve team effectiveness. The most effective managers:

1. Know their people exceptionally well,
2. Constantly talk to them about their performance,
3. Continually ask for more performance, and
4. Delegate exceptionally well.

We recently outlined how to build relationships and get to know your team well. Today we’ll outline Habit #2: How to constantly talk to them about their performance, otherwise known as: How to Give Effective Feedback.

Many business owners and managers are uncomfortable giving feedback, perhaps due to a fear of conflict, or because they aren’t sure how to give feedback effectively.

What is feedback?
The first thing to remember is that praise is not feedback! You can’t improve performance with praise. Think of a golf pro accompanying you for 18 holes, saying simply “great shot” and “nice drive”. While it’s nice to hear, it’s not going to improve your game.

Effective managers:

• Give affirming and adjusting feedback (not positive and negative),
• Get the correct ratio,
• Realise that it’s no big deal, and
• Get the timing right.

Affirming vs Adjusting
Firstly, remember that feedback is neither negative or positive, it’s simply a tool to let your team know how their behaviour matches expectations. Whether you want them to continue doing something (affirming), or change how they do something (adjusting), it’s all about appropriate behaviour, not right or wrong.

The Right Ratio
Affirming feedback tends to be soon forgotten by the employee, while adjusting feedback is long remembered, so actively look for opportunities to give genuine affirming feedback to your team (most employers find that opportunities for corrective feedback present themselves!).

It’s No Big Deal
While feedback may be daunting for both the employer and the employee, it’s important to keep it in perspective. It’s not a big deal, but simply a part of any working relationship. Just as a car journey from A to B takes many lane changes and turns of the wheel, work relationships require navigation and recalibration.

Timing is Everything
There’s no need to store up a list of feedback to give at your weekly meeting, nor to call an employee into your office for a formal session every time an opportunity arises. Generally feedback does not require a written report or major analysis.

Feedback can be given in 30 seconds over a cup of coffee in the work lunchroom. We’ll give you some examples below, but first let’s outline how it’s done.

It’s easy if you follow these four simple steps:

1. Ask Permission
Ask permission to give your employee feedback. If they say no, that’s okay! They may be in the middle of a project or late for a meeting. Ask when it will be a good time, and ensure to follow up.

2. Describe their behaviour
Start the statement with “When you…” but never “I think / I feel / I’ve noticed…”. Ensure you don’t make inferences about your employee’s attitude. I have never seen a lazy employee, however many times I’ve seen behaviours that could indicate laziness. Describing the behaviour, not the person or their attitude, is key.

3. Describe the impact of their behaviour (on them, others, you, the business, results…)
There are no right or wrong behaviours, only consequences of those behaviours. Let your team member know the affect their actions are having.

4. Affirm or Adjust
This is the capstone. Let your employee know whether you want the behaviour to continue or change.

Here is an example of affirming feedback:

“Andrew, can I share something with you? When you get accurate quotes out to customers within 24 hours, here’s what happens. Our business looks efficient and professional, and customers get a great first impression of us. It also reflects that a high standard of work is important to you. Thanks. Please keep doing that.”

The same principle works for adjusting feedback, when there’s an aspect of the employee’s behaviour you would like to see changed:

“Andrew, can I share something with you? When you don’t return customer phone calls within our company-guaranteed time of 24 hours, here’s what happens. Customers could think we are unprofessional, and may not choose to use us. What can you do differently from now on?”

To get used to the model, try only giving affirming feedback for the first month. As you use it more it will become second nature.

Posted by julianne, 19/4/13