You’re sitting in your office and in five minutes, you’re about to give an employee feedback. This will be the second meeting and the first one didn’t go so well and you’re feeling nervous. You’re trying to figure out “Why didn’t John change his behavior, why is he still doing basically the same thing?”
Giving feedback can be no easy task, there are a few variables to consider. One consideration that may come to mind is, ‘how can I deliver clear feedback in a way that will improve my employee’s performance and development?’ Another consideration is ‘will the receiver understand what action to take to make an improvement?’
An Underlying Problem
Showing someone a faster way to complete a task is pretty straight forward. But that doesn’t necessarily enable them to learn. Instead, we attempt to provide feedback but tend to be subjective and non-specific which can confuse the employee. If we deliver it without structure and intention, it can make matters worse.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review called ‘The Feedback Fallacy’ discusses how “Feedback is more distortion than truth” and in order to share a more objective piece of feedback, Managers need to share their perception of what happened and the impact it made on them.
This variable makes receiving feedback extremely difficult. Often there isn’t enough clarity around what we want our employees to stop doing and start doing. In addition, people can get really tense when it comes to constructive feedback. Scientists have learned that when we give negative feedback our “fight or flight” system is activated, which shuts down people’s ability to listen and learn.
Giving Better Feedback
Making sure they are in the right mindset to receive feedback and ensuring it is about the work, not the person can help the conversation. One other way to make feedback more effective is to structure your feedback in a way that employees understand what you’re giving feedback on. Communicating the context of the situation, being specific about observable behaviors, and sharing the impact of their behavior on you is a way to share your perception of what happened, positive or negative. This is a skill that all Managers need to get great at in order to get more work done through others, and skill-building doesn’t happen overnight.