Celebrating success is a positive thing and easily done at the workplace. The challenge is when things are not positive and you need to give feedback to your team member.
Timing is an important factor in giving feedback. The sooner you address the issue is better. When you see things going wrong, whether it’s a performance or behavior issue, as a manager you have to address it. Feedback is a continuous process and not a once-a-year event.
Prepare your comments before you actually talk to your employee. Try and focus only on the task or the issue and not on the person. Do not criticize over emails, when you can meet face to face, or at least talk over the phone. And conduct such meetings in private and not in front of others in the team. Provide specific suggestions of how they could do things differently. Offer resources and support to help employees succeed in the future.
The purpose of giving feedback is to help employees improve. Hence it is important to follow up and see if things improved or not.
Giving negative feedback can be tough for many of us. The bigger challenge is to give feedback in such a way that motivates the person to change. Often, when we give negative feedback the other person becomes defensive. They do not listen with an open mind. They would not agree to the changes required to move forward. How we convey the feedback is more important than the message itself. When managers are upset, their emotions reflect in how they deliver the message. Sometimes, they delay giving the feedback. They hope the situation will correct itself or someone else will give the feedback. When situations get out of control, then managers want to end the employment. During the termination meeting, the employee expresses surprise and shock. No one told them things needed to improve.
If you are not comfortable giving feedback, you might need the practice to build your confidence. Here’s a simple tip that worked for me when I was a new manager. You can prepare your notes on the issue in advance of the meeting. Focus on the issue and not on your emotions about the issue. Explain how your employee’s performance has affected the team or the department’s goals. This will help explain why it is important and why it needs to improve. Ask for suggestions from the employee on how he/she thinks things could be handled differently. Then share what you think will work and what you can offer to help. Once your notes are ready, record your part of the conversation in a voice recorder. Listen to your recordings to see how you sound delivering the difficult message.
Remember, your employee will be reading from your body language. They will observe the tone of your voice to understand where they stand with you on the issue. Listen when your employee explains the situation. If you do not agree with their explanation, be direct and explain why you have a different thought. Try to be objective and direct but not rude or confrontational.
We also face situations, where the employee gets emotional during the feedback session. They start crying or yelling. Try and diffuse the situation by remaining calm and objective. It is not advisable to engage in an emotional outburst. If the situation worsens, such that you cannot have an objective conversation, reschedule the meeting for another time. You still need to give the feedback, explain why you are giving the feedback, why is it important to see a change moving forward, and what needs to change.
Giving feedback is a skill that every manager needs to develop. And when you give feedback, you should be ready to receive feedback as well. It is a two-way street. If you are not open to receive feedback from your employees you may not expect them to respect you or accept the feedback you give them. Open communication is a key to your success in effectively managing your team.
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