It’s easy to give good feedback to your staff. You enjoy it, they enjoy it, you both get a lot of good feelings from it.
What if the feedback is not so good? How do you deal effectively with a situation where the team member needs less-than-positive feedback?
Here are some ideas:
Ensure you keep the lines of communication open. That way, your team member isn’t fearful every time you speak to them.
Don’t wait too long. The team member needs to see the link between the event and the feedback quickly. If not, the effect dissipates.
Be specific. “I want to discuss the project for client A with you” is much better than “Can we talk about the quality of your work?”
Describe actual behaviours rather than labels. Forget the “feedback sandwich”, good-bad-good; it’s seen as ineffective these days and dilutes the impact of good feedback.
Why the feedback? What was the result? Who was affected? The impact gives meaning to the feedback.
Focus on positive items. The more positive you are in your feedback, the more likely people are to repeat what you want.
Don’t make the feedback personal. It should be to enhance and drive change in behaviour, not as a label of another person’s character.
Check on how it’s been received. Maintain the positive interaction, and the team member will see the value of the feedback you’ve offered.
By maintaining good lines of communication, your feedback will be seen as part of the ongoing dialogue rather than you specifically focusing on the negative, and ignoring the positive.
Be aware of the results of your feedback on morale, and you’ll be seen as a competent and approachable manager, as you improve your feedback skills.
Originally published: 23 June, 2010
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