It’s no secret to strong business leaders that feedback, when delivered in the right way, can be an effective tool in helping employees grow, improve and excel in their roles, in turn growing their value and contribution within the company. But delivering useful feedback in an effective way is an art that can be challenging to master.
Here are 6 tips to help you provide your employees with feedback that will actually make a difference.
1. Frequency and Consistency
Annual reviews just aren’t enough. In reality, neither are quarterly reviews. This is not to say that you shouldn’t conduct formal quarterlies or annuals with your teams. You absolutely should. But it’s substantially more beneficial to keep open a frequent and consistent line of less formal evaluation and communication with your team – even as often as every month.
These don’t have to be formally documented meetings. Instead, treat them as monthly touch-bases. If there are positive achievements to celebrate, let your team know that you appreciate them on the fly instead of waiting until their next review to commend them. This will reinforce a positive attitude amongst your team and encourage them to continue their efforts.
On the contrary, monthly touch-bases will allow you to address opportunities for improvement in real-time so that your employees can tackle any issues right away rather than letting these behaviours continue until their next formal review.
2. Specificity is Key
Ambiguous feedback doesn’t do anybody any favours. The most effective feedback you can give to an employee will pertain to specific behaviours or aspects of their performance. Simply telling an employee that their work needs to improve doesn’t provide them with a quantifiable or qualifiable goal to strive towards. Flagging specific opportunities for improvement – and helping the employee create a roadmap towards better performance – will prove to be a much more effective means of feedback.
The same goes for positive feedback. Don’t just tell a team member that they’re doing a good job. Call out and celebrate specific successes and achievements. Not only will this encourage them to continue working hard, it will show them that you are a leader who cares and pays attention to your team.
3. Exercise Two-Way Communication
One of the biggest downfalls for business leaders in providing effective feedback is neglecting to understand that it should be two-way communication. There’s a big difference between talking to somebody and talking at somebody.
When you’re providing feedback to a team member, allow them the opportunity to provide feedback of their own. By giving as much importance to listening as you do to talking, there’s a good chance you’ll learn about your employee, the way they work and the ways in which you can tweak your leadership style to ensure you’re both getting the most out of the business relationship.
4. Offer the Opportunity for Self-Evaluation
To take the concept of two-way communication to an even more effective level, consider providing your team members with a self-evaluation form prior to your quarterly or annual reviews. This will allow the employee to look introspectively at their performance and evaluate their own strengths and opportunities for growth and will provide you with a gauge on their state of mind.
During the review, you can walk through this form together and discuss each portion in detail. In doing so, you can collaboratively identify and address any discrepancies and create a roadmap for improvement.
5. Encourage and Empower
While good leaders encourage and empower their team to take control over their own development, the strongest business leaders understand the integral role they play in the growth of their individual employees and their team as a whole.
During touch-bases and review, listen closely to your employees and allow them to tell you how you might be able to better support their growth and development. Effective leadership means removing ego from the equation and understanding that there are often ways you can improve your performance in order for that growth to trickle down to your team.
6. End on a Positive Note
When providing constructive criticism or feedback to your team, always do your best to end on a positive note. No matter how many positive points of feedback you provide to an employee, letting them leave the review or touch-base on a negative note means they are leaving the meeting feeling discouraged and negative.
Start positive, address opportunities for improvement and end with a focus on the positive points and an action plan for continued success.
Mastering the art of effective feedback isn’t easy and it doesn’t always come intuitively. But perfecting your ability to deliver feedback in the right way can not only improve your rapport with your team, but also help them get the most from their work and give your business their best in return.