Five Tips to Make Feedback Count

Here is an article written by Deborah Busser for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Feedback can be a double-edged sword. If delivered in the right way, it can further employee development; but if misused, it can breed defensiveness or dread.

When leveraged appropriately, feedback can be a tool to further employee development; however, in many companies, the process of delivering feedback becomes an “event” and ultimately undermines employee engagement.

In the latter instance, employees can become defensive rather than receptive; managers often dread having performance conversations; and the organization does not benefit from a potential increase in productivity or innovation that a candid, constructive dialogue might provide.

Here are [two of] five points to bear in mind when providing feedback:

1. Make it consistent. Feedback should not be an “event” that’s tied only to performance reviews, or worse, only to performance improvement plans. The leaders who are most respected are those who take the time and are involved enough with their employees to provide meaningful feedback on a regular basis. Acknowledging employees when they are doing well and quickly addressing areas that need improvement in the moment builds trust and respect in the long term because employees know they are getting the straight story in real time, and that there will not be any surprises at review time.

2. Don’t base information on impressions or assumptions; ask questions. For example, if an employee needs to be given feedback on not handling a client request well, leaders can consider asking questions about what they were hoping to accomplish in the interaction. What did they think the client was really asking for? How did they did decide on their approach? What type of outcome were they hoping to achieve? By assuming that employees’ intentions were positive, it takes them off of the defensive, allowing for a problem-solving discussion where both parties are invested in getting to a better solution or outcome.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Deborah Busser is a partner at Essex Partners, a consultancy that specializes in senior executive and C-suite career transition. She can be reached at the firm.

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