Where do we start ? It may seem counterintuitive, but the feedback process should begin before any work does. You should start on what success looks like whether for a given project or for a given time period, and lay the foundation for productive feedback sessions in the future. It’s like starting a journey with a well-marked map versus blindly walking a few miles and then asking if you’re on track.
During this phase, make sure you address the following :
- What a great job looks like for your report, compared to a mediocre or bad job
- What advice you have to help your report get started on the right foot
- Common pitfalls your report should avoid
Task-specific feedback is most effective when the action performed is still fresh in your report’s memory, so share it as soon as you can. Unless the task is significant, like a high-stakes presentation, dropping a note via email or chat within the day can work just as well as giving the feedback face-to-face.
At its best, task-specific feedback becomes a lightweight, habitual part of your day, and your reports benefit from getting small doses of coaching in everything you see them do.
When you give behavioral feedback, you are making a statement about how you perceive that person, so your words need to be thoughtfully considered and supported with specific examples to explain why you feel that way. It’s best discussed in person so the receiver can ask questions and engage in a back-and-forth with you.
Behavioral feedback helps people understand the reality of how others see them, which may be different than how they see them-selves. It can feel difficult to talk about because it is so personal but at its best, you help your reports walk away with a deeper understanding of themselves and how they can be more effective.
Most 360-feedback process are run once or twice a year. If its not formally done, you can gather the feedback yourself. Every quarter, for each report, I send a short email to a handful of his or her closest collaborators asking:
a) What is he doing especially well that he should do more of?
b) What should he change or stop doing?
Every major disappointments is a failure to set expectations
- The review isn’t fair. If things really were so dire, why hast tie come up until now? This must be a mistake.
- The review is fair, but my manager was negligent and didnt realize I was underperforming until the end of the half.
- The review is fair, but my manager wasn’t honest in sharing fed back with me along the way, so I didn’t have a chance to improve.
Give feedback more often and remind yourself that you’re probably not doing it enough.
Make sure your feedback is being heard
If you’ve ever played a game of telephone as a kid, you know this to be true: What you intend to say and what the listener hears are not always the same. You might think you’re being clear when in fact you’re saying too much, or too little, or sending a different message through your body language. Add to that the listener’s confirmation bias-our tendency to recall things that confirm preexisting beliefs-and it’s no wonder that messages get muddled in translation.
The best way to make your feedback heard is to make the listener feel safe, and to show that you’re saying it because you care about her and want her to succeed. If you come off with even a whiff of an ulterior motive–you want to be right, you’re judging her, you’re annoyed or impatient- the message won’t get through. This is why positive feedback is so effective.
When you’re not sure whether you’ve been heard, there are a few things you can do.
- Verbal confirmation: “Okay, let’s make sure we’re on the same page-what are your takeaways and next steps?”
- Summarize via email what was discussed. Writing can clarify the points being made as well as be reread and referenced in the future. In fact this one should be after every meeting, always worth the pain of writing it down and send it to every participants.
- Repeat your feedback many times from multiple ways; multiple 1:1, emails, 360 feedback, peer feedback, career conversation, etc…
How to ensure that your feedback lead to positive action?
- Make your feedback as specific as possible.
- Use clear exemples that get at the why so it’s easier for the recipient to know what you mean.
- Clarify what success look like and feels like.
- Suggest next step, but be careful. Help your report translate your feedback into action, and be clear about whether you’re setting an expectation or merely a suggestion.But beware to not overdoing this, your not empowering your team to learn to solve problems on their own.
Deliver critical feedback
Telling your report something desappointing is both important and unavoidable.
The best way to give critical feedback is to deliver it directly and dispassionately. Plainly say what you perceive the issue to be, what made you feel that way, and how you would like to work together to resolve the concern.
Try the following template :
When I (heard/observed/reflect on) your (action/behaviour/output), I feel concerned because….
I would like to understand your perspective and talk about how we can resolve this.
Do not use compliment sandwich (compliment, suggesting improvements then compliment again), sugarcoating or long preamble. Those things make your feedback less effective by being perceived insincere or less important.
Deliver bad news
Own the decision, be firm and don’t open for discussion. It is hard because most people hate being the bearer of bad news.
Your report may not agree with you and that’s okay. You are the person ultimately held accountable for the output of your team, and you may have more information or a different perspective on the right path forward.
Acknowledge the disagreement respectfully then move on.