Receiving feedback on your effort, your attitude or your performance is the way that you learn, improve or are motivated to maintain a good performance. Giving feedback effectively and frequently is a key requirement of the role of Manager or Supervisor. Giving and receiving feedback should be a normal part of the Leader and Team Member relationship, a process that both parties understand and accept. It is best practice for the Supervisor to begin giving feedback as part of the initial training period, and to continue this in regular performance coaching sessions throughout the employee’s career.
Giving Positive Feedback
Positive feedback can be given any time, either in public or private. Positive feedback is where we praise a desired attitude, behaviour or performance. The effect of positive feedback is that the person is encouraged to repeat this behaviour and is also motivated to improve. It also builds self confidence and self esteem in the Team Member.
The reverse is also true! Lack of positive feedback is discouraging, demotivating and will lead to a poor performance level. The employee gets the impression that no one cares whether they do well or not, and that their work has no value!
Giving Constructive Feedback
The other type of feedback is Constructive Feedback, or Corrective Feedback. Again, this is essential to performance and motivation. Do not think in terms of NEGATIVE feedback as this is not a useful thought. The aim is not to point out the negative or the bad. If you do this, you will find that the person does not improve. You will find yourself saying the same things over and over again.
Giving constructive feedback is about TRAINING the other person to change or improve. If you do this well, you training is successful and will see the desired result. Giving constructive feedback is about identifying an area for improvement and working out solutions to improve or correct this. In giving the feedback, first identify the current goal or task and why this is important to the Company and to the role. Secondly, state clearly the undesirable attitude, behaviour or performance, with factual evidence. Thirdly, state the desired attitude, behaviour or performance, or better still, ask encouraging questions to help the other person make constructive suggestions. Lastly, work with them to put a strategy in place for achieving the desired goal.
Guidelines for Giving Feedback Effectively
1. Understand that the feedback is primarily a training need. Be aware that you are the supervisor, and are ultimately responsible for this staff’s behaviour. This feedback is aimed at improving knowledge and behaviour.
2. The key is to talk about the behaviour, performance or attitude rather than the person.
3. Have a good working knowledge of your own learning style and the other types of learning styles. This will help you avoid the pitfall of explaining in a way only YOU would understand. Other people are not always like you!
4. Know your Team Member, their personality style and their unique learning style – Are they a visual, verbal, reading & writing, tactile? Do they have language and cultural complexities?
5. Know your own limitations – If you are giving feedback on a volatile situation, make sure you can recognize your own emotions, and are aware that you may need to calm down before feedback.
6. Give constructive feedback in private – Never give constructive feedback in a group. You would not want to receive it in front of your staff!
7. Always start with positive – When giving feedback you always start with at least two positive observations. This will start the meeting off on a positive note.
8. Look at the individual – make eye contact, don’t avoid. If you do, they may question the validity of your session.
9. No apologies – do not apologize for their actions that need correction. Don’t say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but…”
10. Give constructive feedback in an honest and diplomatic way – that is, while pinpointing the target behaviour, state the constructive measures to change the behaviour. Remember, constructive feedback is a means to improving situations by finding a solution to the problem. Give a due date for follow up. The point is to teach a new skill where there was a deficiency.
11. End with a positive – If it was a particularly lengthy/ gruesome session, interact with the staff to make sure things are ok. Be sure that you have checked in with them before you leave for the day. You want to make sure they are not going home disappointed.
12. Ask if they have any questions – if you have given a feedback session, you may not have realised that you were the only one talking for quite some time. Always give the staff the opportunity to seek further knowledge or assistance.
Kate Tammemagi specialises in Management Training in Ireland. She designs and delivers People Management Training and Customer Care Training.
Need help in this area? CRM Learning’s Positive Discipline training program helps leaders get beyond the belief that confronting negative performance has to be punitive in nature and shows them — with a simple 5-step process — how performance discussions can actually be a tool for developing employees.