Great quality employee feedback is one of the best thing’s managers can give to their teams. Well-structured, constructive guidance that the recipient can use to evolve what they do; and how they do it is vital for ongoing development, confidence and a thriving workforce.
The problem is, we’re not so keen on giving it or receiving it.
When we receive negative feedback, our unconscious brain kicks in. It activates our fight or flight mode and can sometimes trigger emotional memories of being told off as a kid.
We can also sometimes respond negatively to positive feedback, when it challenges our own more critical self-beliefs.
And when it comes to giving employee feedback – that’s a whole different ball game.
Here’s how managers can improve the way that they give feedback to their employees:
Making it Memorable
What piece of feedback has stuck with you ever since it was given? Why did it stick?
It might have been the person that gave it to you or the context in which it was given. You may have respected or felt intimidated by the person giving the feedback, or you might have enjoyed or hated the situation you were going through. Any of these things could have made it memorable, but not necessarily in a good way.
Feedback that you remember positively is likely to be detailed in nature.
Feedback needs certain qualities in order to make a positive difference. Whilst there are loads of feedback models out there, this one is our favourite. It lives across a broad range of our blended learning materials, including a specific guide to giving feedback from our partners at 10 to 3:
1. Start your feedback with what you have seen or heard someone do
Tempting as it is, don’t label someone as ‘lazy’ or ‘a nightmare’. It isn’t specific enough to be helpful, and therefore can be dismissed by the receiver. It’s also highly likely to put them on the defensive too!
2. Tell them what you have seen or heard
Try phrases such as ‘I am concerned/pleased about’ to set the scene, but then give the all-important detail by way of a specific example.
3. Describe the impact
This part grabs attention as we do things better when we know why we are doing them. Also, it could be we are talking about something that’s a blind spot for the recipient.
4. Tell them what you would like them to be doing
Do this by providing a clear picture of what is needed next time. This gives a constructive flavour to the feedback too.
If, despite your first-class feedback, someone appears to reject what you are saying (positive or negative), highlight this to them by empathising, signalling to them why it is important for them to listen, and then going back through points 1-4 above.
To achieve a ‘feedback culture’, it’s likely that we need to ask for feedback as well as give it. Our workshop on giving and receiving feedback is a great way for employees to learn how to demonstrate an understanding of what makes for good quality employee feedback, anticipate the responses they might get, show how to address them if they are not constructive, and take a good look at how they can respond better to feedback.
The secret? Be targeted to get the detail that you need to achieve a positive difference.