Do you have a workplace where people can provide feedback in a trusting and safe environment where feelings aren’t hurt, productivity isn’t compromised, and people don’t fear the experience?
Too often leaders and employees loathe the thought of having to provide feedback or worse, be on the receiving end. Feedback has long been an uncomfortable experience for most people involved, but why does it have to be something we fear in the workplace?
The reality, it is probably the result of past experiences not ending well for both the feedback provider and receiver.
So how do you build the feedback muscle? You flex it often and make it part of your standard workplace practices. You recognise the positive performance, you provide feedback on performance requiring improvement, and most of all you make it a mutually beneficial experience for you and the employee.
Here are some key tips to get you started:
Effective feedback is based on a strong foundation of trust and respect. Don’t always assume you know the answers or the reasons why people are not performing or behaving appropriately in the workplace. Enter a discussion with an open mind, ask open-ended questions and actively listen to give the employee the opportunity for you to see things from their side.
Sometimes those missing pieces can help put an issue or incident into context, helping you to implement the most appropriate solution and action.
Remember that an effective leader and employee relationship is based on two-way open and transparent communication. Be willing to ask your team for feedback on your leadership and how you can continue to improve the support you provide them with.
This will help create a continuous development environment where everyone is working towards personal development and improvement. If your team know that you’re open to constructive feedback too, then they are more than likely to accept yours when you provide it.
Make sure the feedback you provide is more than just when someone has done something wrong. The best way to exercise the feedback muscle is to build it with plenty of positive reinforcement and opportunities to recognise the good stuff.
More often than not, work environments that fear feedback are the ones that only ever hear something from their leader when things have gone wrong!
Mix it up. If you recognise and provide feedback on the good things people are doing, when it comes to a time where you need to provide performance improvement feedback, they will be more likely to receive the feedback constructively having established two-way feedback with you already.
Be clear on what you are providing feedback on before you commence your discussion. Have your facts, even if it is just observations, and provide your employee with an example/s of what they have done well, or what they need to focus on improving – depending on the reason for your discussion.
Make sure to focus on providing feedback in a constructive way. Most people don’t set out to do the wrong thing. Often it is the symptom of something more. Does the employee need some training or support? Are they dealing with problems outside of work that is having an impact on their performance?
Your employees need to know that you are there to support their success, but that you are also there to provide feedback and support their performance achievement. If you have this shared understanding, you are more likely to get a constructive response and acknowledgement that sometimes things might need to change.
Quite a simple concept – but it works!
Don’t wait for the perfect timing (there never is one!) and don’t avoid a conversation that you know needs to happen. Instead, where possible try to ‘see something and say something when it happens.
Others might refer to this as, “the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept”.
If you notice a person in the team says something abrupt or rude to another team member or customer, have a quiet chat with them as soon as you can. Ask them if everything is OK, and that you noticed their remark or comment to the other employee or customer.
Provide a gentle reminder to your employee that you need to acknowledge these instances when they happen, and that you also can’t accept the behaviour continuing. Offer your support and let them know that you’re confident they can bounce back.
This could be less than a 3-minute conversation with almost no preparation required by you! Within a few minutes, you have called out the behaviour, listened to the employee’s response, acknowledged the need for improvement and provided them with an offer of your support to build their confidence.
Remember to balance your feedback too! Next time you see something positive or an improvement from the employee make sure to acknowledge it.
So, it’s time to start flexing your feedback muscle. Make a commitment to yourself to ‘see something and say something’ whether it’s positive or improvement focused.
If you can build effective feedback into your DNA and people see feedback being delivered in a constructive and positive way before you know it that feedback muscle will be strong.
If you are looking for more specific training or coaching on giving and receiving effective feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at BespokeHR for support.