…which is perhaps why so many managers are so poor at giving feedback: rather than have a potentially uncomfortable conversation about what their employee needs to improve upon, they avoid it completely. But giving feedback is a crucial skill that every manager needs to practice (in order to get better at giving it). After all, the only way you can expect your employees to get better at what they do is to give them constructive, candid and timely feedback. But, again, giving feedback is a skill that requires practice…and carefully chosen words.
Five Tips for What to Say (and What Not to Say) When Giving Feedback:
- Say This: “I noticed that you’ve missed a few deadlines lately.” Not That: “You seem disinterested in your work lately.” When giving feedback, it’s important to focus on an employee’s specific behavior, not the impression you had of it. Telling an employee that he or she “seems disinterested” or “appears disengaged” is actually a comment about your perception or impression of the employee – which comes across as a judgment - when in reality, the employee’s perceived disinterest could be the result of something completely unrelated to work. Focusing on the specific behavior that led to that impression opens up the door to have a clear discussion about the reasons why, rather than making the employee feel judged, alienated or confused.
- Say This: “You were effective when you…” or “You could’ve been more effective when you…” Not That: “Good job.” In other words, feedback that is generic and vague is also useless. Focusing on specific actions has two major benefits: It prevents employees from taking the feedback personally, and it also helps them understand what they should do (or not do) in the future.
- Say This: “I’d like to offer you some feedback on this report, is that okay with you?” Not That: “Your report was…” Whenever possible, request to give feedback. Not only will your employees appreciate the gesture, but they’ll be more likely to take the feedback into consideration and apply it to try to improve.
- Say This: “Your presentation was extremely well-researched. Here’s where it could’ve been stronger…” Not That: “The research you used in your presentation was a little weak in some areas.” Preface with the positive. Point out what the employee is doing well before delving into areas for improvement. When employees feel like their work is appreciated, they are much more likely to implement the constructive criticism – and to come to you for feedback in the future.
- Say This: “Tell me, what was your understanding of what I asked you to do?” Not That: “You seem to have misunderstood what I asked you to do.” There’s that assumption creeping back in again, which does little to open up an honest, productive conversation. Try to really look at your employees’ work through their eyes – and make the effort to understand their approach to their work. It will help you analyze the situation in a way that helps them reach their goals….And, perhaps most importantly, this approach will help you see how you can communicate with your employees more effectively.
Thoughts? Feedback? Anything you would add?Related