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Are People Leaders Struggling to Provide Effective Feedback to Their Teams?

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Giving your team the right feedback can be a rather tricky task. While it is vital to provide continuous and constructive feedback that allows every member of your team to learn and grow, it is equally important to do it in a considerate manner that doesn’t seem like criticism of their shortcomings.

But this may not be as easy as it sounds. Managers are often likely to commit a few common mistakes while doing so. Displeasure or dissatisfaction with a member of their team often causes managers to use feedback conversations to pinpoint mistakes instead of providing Coaching. It also isn’t uncommon for leaders to delay giving the necessary feedback predicting an argument or sugarcoating the feedback to the point where clarity is lost.

Now, while it is not acceptable to be harsh and provide feedback in a way that leads to defensive behavior on the receiver’s part, it is also not advisable to let constructive feedback slip by unnoticed. The right approach would be to create conditions in which every team member can respectfully accept the feedback, reflect on it, and then learn and grow from it.

To accomplish this, let us take a look at 7 Key Characteristics of Effective Feedback that will not only help you, as a Mentor or a Manager, provide effective feedback but also help your team to grow successfully.

  1. Goal-oriented

For feedback to be useful, it must be goal-oriented. To accomplish this, you will need to focus on what went well and the things that can be done differently for a better outcome. Remember to not place a negative or positive value on the suggestion that you are providing. It would be helpful to ask employees their identified goals and ask them what they think they should do differently to accomplish the goals? Give them a chance to identify the problems themselves and come up with the solutions they believe will help them, before you provide suggestions from your end.

  1. Tangible and Transparent

Once both you and your team have obtained objective information about what happened, the next step would be to determine transparent and tangible results. This involves a clear understanding of the primary ways to correct the situation and accomplishing the expected results.

  1. Actionable

Being structured and specific is key to actionable feedback. When you include data or facts that your team members can use to improve their performance, then feedback becomes actionable. You can deliver the feedback in the form of information that they may have missed amidst daily activities and constant pressure to deliver results. Also, don’t forget to make it neutral – no praise, no criticism, no judgment. Just provide valuable facts. If you give this information respectfully, you will achieve a level of trust and transparency with your team, and they will adapt promptly and become more productive and efficient.

  1. User-friendly

User-friendly feedback means to provide feedback in a manner that is comprehensible by the employee. It is a two-way process. It cannot only be accurate from your viewpoint as a manager but also requires consent and understanding from the receiver. Think about it this way, what’s the point of giving feedback if it overwhelms the receiver? Therefore, you must first ensure that you have established some common ground before offering advice. Next, it is advisable to only focus on one or two critical elements of performance rather than an amplitude of information coming in from all sides. Discuss with your employees either one or two essential things that you feel, if changed, would yield noticeable improvements.

  1. Timely

Research from the University of Reading, has shown that feedback is more effective when it is given at the right time and in a timely manner. Continuous feedback is more effective than feedback in spurts. This means that your team members are more likely to benefit from feedback if they receive it while they are in the middle of a project, rather than at the end. Feedback should also be given before they move on to the next project/assignment.

  1. Continuous

study by PwC revealed that millennials expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career, and constant feedback. 51% of respondents quoted that feedback should be given very frequently or continuously on the job and only 1% said that feedback was not important to them. The importance of providing continuous feedback cannot be understated. Any such feedback should involve discussing goals, setting expectations, analysis of planned vs. achieved, strengths and weaknesses, and other performance-related topics with team members on an ongoing basis.

  1. Structured and Consistent

Depending on your preference and leadership style, there are several structured models with varying acronyms and implications for your workplace.

  • BIFF model (Behavior, Impact, Future, Feelings)
  • STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, Result)
  • AID model (Action, Impact, Desired Action)
  • BEER model (Behavior, Effect, Expectation, Result)

There are several other structured models and each of them has their own set of merits. However, it is vital to remember that regardless of the model you choose, the key is in following a structured approach.

The Global Workforce Study by Towers Watson revealed that both feedback and recognition are key drivers in increasing a manager’s effectiveness and employee engagement. The study also indicated that an absence of such feedback could contribute to work-related stress.

Hence, it can be concluded that providing feedback in the right manner is beneficial and drives the organizational culture towards success.

How are you facilitating this at your organization or within your team? Can your team easily seek feedback?

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