Constructive feedback and criticisms are crucial for one’s success. Yet, not all people, even leaders, like to give feedback to others.
Reported by Zenger and Folkman, almost everyone loves receiving feedback – but hates giving ones. In their data, the number of respondents who love receiving positive feedback is in the same percentage to those who dislike giving negative feedback. When asked about the reasons, many executives and managers cited that giving feedback is a hard thing to do, they are afraid to say something wrong, most people get too emotional when they hear things they don’t like, thus, it might jeopardise work relationships instead of strengthening it.
However, feedback is an important ingredient to boost performance and productivity. Zenger and Folkman cited that feedback could be a powerful strategy to help employees get out of their unproductive zone. In fact, nearly every employee actively want feedback to help them improve and develop.
In short, it cannot be denied that providing feedback might be uncomfortable for some leaders but with the right knowledge, you can harness the good result of giving feedback to your employees. Here is what you need to avoid.
Same as when you praise employees, offering constructive criticism should be specific and with examples because, without these two complementary elements, you will only confuse employees. For example, when you tell your staff to learn how to write better, he might not be able to comprehend well what you mean by “better” here, or in what kind of writing. Thus, the employees might not fully improve their ability to write better.
At this point, you can try to be more specific by saying, “Before submitting your report, please proofread them. Your last report has several errors which could have been avoided with a little more time and attention paid to accuracy”. This kind of suggestion will give your employees a clue about their mistakes.
In line with the first point, feedback in question form shows unclarity, is indirect and is not effective. You will confuse your employees when you propose questions as feedback instead of a statement. Therefore, always form your feedback in the form of a statement.
When feedback is given, managers tend to bring past mistake and conclude that employees are unable to carry out certain tasks assigned to them. Managers might also bring an example of other people to be compared. While it is not wrong to give a good example, the first thing to remember is that not all people like to be compared. Additionally, there might be a good reason why the employee keeps committing the same mistake.
So, instead of pointing the employee what is right and wrong, it is better for leaders or managers to question employees’ reasons behind their mistake before judging. Good managers always pay close attention to employee’s needs and wants. Click here for a clue to ask during a feedback session.
When giving feedback, it is always better to read between the lines – that is to see the positive among the negatives. By doing this, you will not only give your employees a clue for what is wrong but also encouragement for what is expected.
You should know when to stop and give your people time to process the information they have received. Too long feedback will only burden their psychological thinking, resulting in unproductive behaviour and dizziness.
Time passes and so does mistakes. If you wait to give feedback for the perfect time, it will be less effective because the mistake has already been buried with new experiences. It does not mean, nevertheless, that you should give feedback on the spot in front of other co-workers.
The right thing to do is to observe the employees behaviour and performance. If within two days the same mistake is repeated, you might want to call him for a one-on-one meeting and discuss the problem. When giving your feedback, never forget to also give a clue for the solution or at least provide resources when needed.
The word always and never is exaggerated with generalities which will make your employees think that you don’t really pay close attention to their hard work because there is always “one” time employees do well with their responsibilities.