Feedback: make it or break it!
There is a popular saying that says: “Practice makes perfect.” Nevertheless, that is not always true: if you practice something a thousand times, but you are doing it in the wrong way, you will be strengthening this bad practice. On the other hand, when you do something and receive feedback about it, you can correct it, and the next time you do it, you will be doing it better. And with every feedback, you will be one step closer to doing it “perfect”.
That’s why feedback is important in every aspect of our lives. Anyway, this post will focus on performance feedback between leaders and employees in an organization.
A valuable task
What are the benefits of effective feedback?
- It helps set and spread objectives, behaviors, and attitudes that are appreciated in the organization. It allows every member of the team to know what is expected of them and for what issues they will be valued. This way, it increases the alignment of the team with the company’s strategy.
- The recognition of behaviors that have a positive impact on the company favors motivation and encourages continuity and transmission of those in the team. So, receiving feedback increases people’s performance and helps in the retention of talented people in the organization.
- It contributes to identifying inappropriate attitudes and behaviors, or areas that can be improved, which is an opportunity for professional development. Feedback is an essential part of the learning process. An employee may need improvement in one or several skills but may not be aware of what exactly he/she needs to do to improve. In those cases, a comment from his/her supervisor can serve as a guide to know in which direction to go forward.
- Last but not least, feedback meetings enhance the communication and interpersonal relationships among leaders and collaborators and encourage an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.
Pay attention to “how”
However, to make it all come true, the quality of the feedback given is critical. This process must not consist on the leader imposing ideas. On the contrary, it’s about establishing a two-way communication channel, in which both leader and employee can express their perceptions and points of view.
Here are some valuable tips for leaders for handling effective feedback meetings:
- Highlight the strengths, do not focus on criticism. Thank and approve their work, effort, and dedication. Positive feedback has a huge impact on employee’s commitment and motivation.
- Use the “sandwich” method. Some people tend to be sensitive to criticism, acting defensively when they receive a critique and perceive it as negative. The most efficient way to prevent that psychological barrier is to start with something positive, then continue with the constructive comment, to finally end with a positive note again.
- As you can see in the previous bullet, we talk about constructive not negative feedback. It is intended to help a person to improve, not to blame or point an accusing finger.
- Feedback is about the task, not about the person. We look at what, how and why, not who. So, leave your judgments and prejudices out of the meeting, and instead of pointing out aspects related to the other person’s personality, focus on his/her actions and behavior.
- After a constructive comment, work together in the development of an action plan to achieve a goal of improvement. Offer suggestions, recommend solutions. Follow up on this action plan periodically.
- Be specific. The more details you can provide, the more sense it will have for the other person. Refer to specific facts instead of assumptions and generalizations.
- Constructive feedback needs to be discussed privately; positive feedback can also be shared in public.
- Prepare the meeting. Take time to think what you are going to say, and schedule it in a suitable place, with some anticipation.
It’s not an easy task, we know
Yes, giving constructive feedback can be an awkward situation. It must be done in a careful way, to avoid damaging the relationship.
But it is also a crucial tool for the self-acknowledgement of your collaborators. It is tough to improve without feedback from others, and every employee needs to be informed on how their performance is perceived. Also, not giving feedback is feedback itself.
How we do it at Intraway
At Intraway, we really take into consideration how important performance feedback is.
Feedback meetings are the last and most important step in the performance review process we handle twice a year. Besides, in the upward feedback, there is a special section in which employees can express how they feel about their feedback meetings, and if they are productive or not.
Based on this, when was the last time you provided feedback to your team? Go ahead!