The ability to give feedback effectively is one of the most challenging things for a good leader to master, and arguably one of the most important. Once you get it, you will be able to increase performance of those around you without inciting an emotional reaction, and convey a strong message.
- Timing is everything
“I have some feedback for you, is now a good time?” That’s a good way to ensure the time is ok so you will both be able to focus on the feedback, rather than having attention pulled away by other tasks. Give feedback in private and ensure you are not setting the individual up to be embarrassed, which will take their attention away from the feedback and focus it on their feelings of embarrassment.
- Don’t sugar coat it
Compliments and positive reinforcement are great! Unfortunately, sandwiching your feedback with compliments detracts from the feedback you have deemed important enough to address. If they react defensively, don’t rescue them and start rattling off the list of all the things they are doing right, let them own their mistake.
Make sure you know whom you are dealing with. If they tend to be overly sensitive and take everything to heart, be sensitive and ensure you don’t make them feel guilty which can demotivate. Focus on the action and your observations, not the person’s character.
- Don’t use verbal erasers or generalities
“I think you really need to work on your time management, but your doing a great job.” The word ‘but’ is a verbal eraser and negates anything said before it. Try to avoid using ‘but’ (nonetheless, however, although…) when giving feedback, and just focus on the message you want to convey. Avoid saying things like “You’re always late” as it lacks clarity and is assumptive, try something like, “I have noticed that you have been late three times this week, is everything okay?”