This is a guest post by Sonia Di Maulo.
Feedback is a tool that helps us celebrate our employees’ successes and improve their strengths. Sharing your point of view gives others insight and an advantage on their ongoing work performance. It is a must-do for all leaders.
Delivering performance feedback can be very rewarding and stress-free; yet so many people have a hard time getting it right. It has to be a top priority, however, because clear communication is the key to employees’ success. It’s time to sharpen your feedback skills, deliver feedback often and regularly, and avoid the communications traps below.
Think about it: How have you delivered performance feedback in the past? Which of these are you guilty of?
1. Telling employees you have feedback for them, but scheduling the meeting four days later
Your schedule is full, and you wanted to give them a heads up. Still, imagine how much your employees will agonize over the next four days. Offer feedback as soon as possible after announcing the meeting. The same day is ideal.
2. Providing feedback on what can be improved without celebrating successes
You only have time to share what an employee can do better next time, so he or she leaves feeling demotivated and unappreciated.Instead, start with three positives and provide several small or one large improvement item.
3. Failing to have a plan for what you will say
Always have a plan and a general idea of what you will say and the outcomes you want to achieve. Being a leader means having employee meetings that instill confidence and empower future performance.
5. Providing feedback in an email without offering an opportunity to connect in person or over the phone
Sharing feedback in an email is not recommended, but sometimes it’s your only choice. Remember that writing it down means you need to take more time and extra care in your selection of words and tone. And ALWAYS offer an open invitation to connect within the next 24 hours once employees read the note. Doing so will offer you a chance to clear up misunderstandings.
6. Wanting to provide feedback, but never getting around to doing it
Your high performers know they do a good job, but you’ve not had time to tell them officially. Or the feedback required to move your employees’ performance from great to excellent never happens. Those missed opportunities can be costly, causing you to lose a great employee, a great client or a revenue stream. It’s time to make time; the benefits will be worth it.
7. Delivering critical feedback in public or in passing because you ran out of time to schedule a meeting
A conversation of this nature deserves the respect of four walls, even if it only takes 10 or 15 minutes. Making a focused commitment communicates respect and develops trust.
8. Delivering feedback focused only on what you want and not considering if the employee is ready to hear and act upon your words of wisdom
Always consider your audience. If employees are not ready to hear it, it will do more harm than good. Your goal is to get them ready to hear your perspective. Often asking questions and listening first is your best strategy. And be sure to let them know that the goal of your providing feedback is to help them improve and become more indispensable.
9. Letting a disagreement grow into conflict
Disagreements are critical to business growth. Managing this conflict in a respectful manner gains respect, trust and loyalty. Do what you need to do, even if it means saying you were wrong.
10. Doing all the talking and forgetting to listen
Plan to listen first. The best strategy starts with asking employees to self-assess their behavior based on a predetermined list of expected actions (a job description or task list). Listen with the intent to understand their valuable perspectives. Then share to build on what you have learned.
Your goal: to make improvements, monitor results and watch the positive changes around you, and remember this sage advice from John Powell, “Communication works for those who work at it.”
Sonia’s mission is to help leaders cultivate trust and collaboration! Sonia Di Maulo (BA in Communication Studies and MA in Educational Technology) is Founder and Lead Feedback Enthusiast of Harvest Performance. You can connect with Sonia on Twitter or LinkedIn.