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5 Steps to Giving Effective Feedback

5 Steps to Giving Effective Feedback

Do you cringe when your boss says it is time for your Performance Review? Unfortunately most managers wait all year to provide feedback, saving comments and “documenting” performance (usually all the negative aspects) for the infamous Performance Review. It is no wonder most people feel like their review fell short.

As the manager, you want to provide feedback, all year long, so that your staff feel like you care and you want them to succeed. In this article, we are suggesting 5 steps to provide effective feedback. Instead of the “performance review” being a let down, you can coach your team throughout the year. 

Employees actually want feedback when they are performing well and when they aren’t. The problem with the dreaded Performance Review, is that it is infrequent and not in real time, so it is not seen as practical. It often comes off as staged and inauthentic. Since most employees do not hear directly from their manager during the year, it is hard to establish trust and rapport in this one review.

Feedback is one of the power tools managers can use to engage and empower their staff. I have 5 tips to make the feedback a positive and useful experience.

Tip #1 Be Clear

Be clear on why you are giving feedback.

Feedback is designed to improve the performance in a specific situation. It is counter productive to be mean or overly critical. You want to keep the person’s attention so they understand the importance of them doing something the correct way. You will not improve performance if you slam the person with a flood of criticism.

Tip #2 Be Specific

Be specific with your feedback.

It is not helpful to speak in generalities. If you say, this was “unprofessional,” or “inappropriate,” or “appropriate” this doesn’t mean anything to the individual and they are left frustrated trying to figure out how to fix the problem. State the feedback in very clear language. Here is an example of good feedback and ineffective feedback:

“It was an excellent choice of venue for the retreat because everyone had a chance to mingle and chat before the meeting. They were relaxed and more open when we got down to business. I look forward to you planning the next one”
“It was a great choice of venue.”

Another example:

“When you chose to go to lunch without confirming Robin was on the unit, it left the patients without enough staff to answer lights and the supervise the aides. There is a greater risk of falls without enough staff to monitor patient needs. You have to report to the nurse on the floor before you leave the unit for any reason.”
“It was unprofessional to abandon the unit.”

Tip #3 Be Timely

Delaying feedback can be counter-productive.

Give the feedback as close to the time it happens as possible. This not only helps the individual tie the feedback to behavior, it also builds trust as the employee knows you are present and engaged in their day. The only time you may delay the feedback for a brief time is if emotions are running hot, then you may want to delay the feedback until everyone calms down and can hear it.

Tip #4 Be Focused

Build trust by specifying 1-2 issues.

By following the tips above, this will help you zero in on the issue. Keep the feedback to 1 or maybe 2 issues. More than this can feel like an attack. Your goal is to improve performance and change behavior. The individual needs to feel like they have the ability to change. The problem with an annual review is that you have saved up suggestions all year that may not be relevant at the time of the review. When you are specific and focused, you have a greater chance of building trust. Remember that employees want to do the best job they can and they like knowing what is expected of them.

Tip #5 Follow Up

Check in shortly after the feedback has been given.

The goal of feedback is to change behavior and improve performance. It is important to follow up and see how everything is going. Did the feedback achieve its goal? Measure the change, document the approach and make changes as needed.

Feedback is one of the power tools a leader has to influence their staff to make the needed changes in behavior for optimal performance. Employees really want to know what to do and not do and need this feedback provided regularly and with care.

As the leader, learning to empower your team is a great skill to develop. As you strengthen your “feedback” skills, you gain the ability to communicate clearly and with purpose. This is the foundation of providing excellent feedback.

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