Feedback is one of the Top 3 factors that motivate people at work. The majority of employees want to know when they’re doing well, and when they could be doing better. There’s no doubt, that giving people feedback, is absolutely vital to ensure a motivated team who deliver results.
Whether you want to reinforce positive behavior or change unacceptable behavior, there are certain steps you need to follow to make it effective.
- Do it as soon as possible. When you see or hear something, you do or don’t like, you need to say something right away. If it’s positive feedback it’s not much use saying something months later.
It also makes sense to give constructive feedback as soon as you see, or hear something you don’t like. If you don’t do it right away, then the person will assume that you didn’t notice, or that it doesn’t matter, or that you don’t care.
- Do it in private. This seems like the most obvious thing to say but I still see managers giving a member of their team some positive feedback in front of other people be they colleagues or customers. Of course, it’s usually more of a reprimand. Some managers believe that if they’re seen and heard giving some feedback, then it will have an effect on the other team members, you bet it will – it’ll totally de-motivate them!
- Check that it’s okay to speak. If one of your team has just finished speaking to a customer on the phone, they might have some admin things to do before they forget. If you interrupt, then you risk being responsible for a customer not getting something they were promised.
It’s only good manners to check before speaking, and your people will respect you for it.
- Announce your intentions. If your people are not used to receiving regular feedback, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair, or ring them on the phone? You’re right, they think its bad news, that they’ve done something wrong, or there’s a problem.
It’s important therefore to tell them up front, what you want to speak about.
- Tell them how YOU feel about their behavior Your people work for the same organisation as you, but it’s you they have to please. So make sure when you give feedback, it comes from you. That means not saying things like, ‘The company doesn’t like their employees to speak to customers like that.’ Or, ‘It’s not up to me, but you’d better improve your performance or you’ll be in trouble.’
- Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t confuse your team member with a whole list of behaviors. If it’s positive feedback then, you don’t want to list several things they’ve done well. You’re only diluting the whole feedback and it loses its impact.
If you’re giving constructive feedback, then you don’t want to confuse your team member with a whole catalog of behaviors that you’re unhappy about.
- Be specific. When you’re giving one of your team some feedback and coaching them, it’s so important to focus on job related behavior and not on the personality of the individual.
If you feel a bit uncomfortable giving feedback, try to focus on the person’s behavior on the job, in terms of how they conducted a particular task. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.
- Include the customer and the organisation. Whenever appropriate, relate what your feedback is about, to how the customer was affected. This of course could be an internal or an external customer. You could also relate it to how the organisation was affected, if relevant.
- Get input. When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the team members input. Listen to what they have to say and discuss how, you can, together, resolve the situation.
10. Don’t leave them low. This is particularly important after giving constructive feedback. As I said earlier, this isn’t an attack on the person; it’s about job related behavior. A team member should come out of a feedback session with their sense of self-worth intact.