One of the easiest ways to be an effective manager is to provide regular feedback. Yet, one of the biggest complaints we continue to hear from employees is that they need to receive more of it.
For some people, feedback comes once a year during an annual performance review. I would argue this is not really feedback and more of a required, “sign this,” procedural task.
Could you imagine a coach not providing feedback to their team? Or waiting until the end of the game or season to correct bad behavior? Of course not. The coach may even bench the player because performance matters and impacts the team. The coach is responsible for that.
If you manage people, you are responsible for that. You are the coach. Good coaches, and good leaders, will continually provide feedback for both good and bad behavior.
Feedback should praise good performance and acknowledge bad performance.
We like good feedback, the praise. It feels good to hear we are doing a good job. This is not only good for the employees receiving the feedback, but for the team and organization. You are communicating what good behavior looks like. Praising good behavior sets the tone of what the culture should be. I have said it before, behavior drives culture.
Good managers should use feedback to correct bad behavior. Unfortunately, this is difficult for many managers and must be actively built into their operations.
If the behavior or incident is flagrant or egregious, it is easy. Often, the employee will expect some type of response or discipline.
What I am talking about is poor performance, the conversations that can be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, because this can be hard and makes people uneasy, we avoid it.
It has been my experience that many people welcome this feedback but seldom get it. This is what separates good coaches and leaders from the rest. The feedback is not to ridicule or tear down people, it is intended to help make them better. To help people improve and grow.
If you are authentic and trusted, know that regular feedback will be accepted. Your people already know you care about them, and they want your feedback.
If you want to provide regular feedback and are not sure how, consider these suggestions:
-Be transparent. Everyone should know your vision and what you expect of them. Communicate your goals and expectations and make sure everything is clear.
-Don’t wait. I had a friend who told me during his annual performance review his manager told him that his performance at a specific event several months prior was not acceptable and one of the reasons for his lower rating. As a coach or supervisor, you must provide feedback as soon as possible.
-Be specific. Address the specific behavior or action.
-Be consistent. Remember, this is continual. Good or bad, feedback should be on a regular basis. In addition, consistency also means you are providing this type of feedback throughout the team or organization. Everyone is held to the same standards.
-Listen. Maybe a decline in performance can be explained because of outside factors. Listen to your people, not for excuses but for struggles.
-Follow-up. Is the employee implementing feedback and improving? Do they need additional help or support?
I was fortunate to have been on many good teams, at work and otherwise, in my life. Although most employees will cherish the memories they make in their job as I have, it is the coaches and leaders that usually make a mark.
Be that person. Inspire people. Help them grow. Be a part of positive change.
- Brian Townsend, Eagle 6 Training