When you give feedback to a team member at their performance review, you want it to be useful as possible. But unless you give feedback on things that truly impact their work performance such as their behaviour, approach, skills and knowledge and separate these from your personal opinions and preferences, they won’t be able to act on it.
Here are 8 great tips to help you ensure that the feedback you give will be heard and acted on.
- Share your intent before content. When you come to giving feedback, explain why you are giving it and how it will benefit the other person before you give them the specifics. If they see that you are ‘on their side’ they will be more likely to listen to you.
- Remember there may be more than one ‘truth’. For some types of work there will be a right and a wrong way of doing it. For example, if there is a process that must be followed, then clearly if someone decides to do their own thing and not follow it then that’s incorrect. However, not all work has a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do it. Many sports stars, for example, have been very successful because they have done things in an unconventional or unorthodox way. Therefore, before you give feedback about something you think is ‘wrong’, just check yourself. If you are unsure you can of course open up a discussion about it with a question such as ‘What were you hoping to accomplish by doing (x) in that way?’ You may be surprised by their answer and realise that it is you that has been doing it ‘wrong’ all along!
- Know the facts. Effective feedback is like good journalism: it relies on facts and specifics, so make sure you have examples you can share. Vague feedback is useless at best and counterproductive at worst.
- Don’t make it personal. If the other person feels that your feedback is a personal critique or worse a personal attack, they will not listen to it or act on it. Therefore, emphasise facts, not your interpretations. This means staying away from comments that are subjective such as Nils, you are very extrovert. Even if you believe your team member’s behaviour stems from their personality, that is just your opinion and it may or may not be accurate. Describe specific behaviours and use examples instead. For example: ‘Nils – I have noticed in a number of our team meetings that you interrupt people and frequently talk over them. For example, at our team meeting last week…..’
- Encourage a discussion. Feedback should be a discussion. It should be about sharing observations, ideas and working collaboratively to help the other person improve their performance. It should not be a one way diatribe.
- Avoid bringing up irrelevant information. If you have to discuss a particular performance issue during the performance review, focus on the performance issue and nothing else. Irrelevant information such as the other person’s recent surgery or holiday is immaterial to the issue at hand!
- Provide balanced feedback. Too often managers think that good feedback should be honest criticism, but that’s just half the story. Good feedback is about recognising great work too. So, make sure you have examples that you can point to and give credit where credit’s due.
- Ask for feedback yourself. Finally, ask for feedback from your team member too. However, don’t just ask ‘Do you have any feedback for me?’ as the response will invariably be ‘No’! Instead, be specific with your request by asking questions such as ‘How can I help you to have a great start to this year? Or ‘What can I do to help you get better at xyz’? Remember, if your team member isn’t performing as well as they can, you might be contributing to the problem so have the courage to ask.
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