Feedback: The Key to Top Performance

Feedback is information one person gives another person about how their actions and behavior impact performance or outcome of a project or practice. While it requires time, careful communication, and sometimes researching possible solutions, feedback is not optional. It is a responsibility for both leaders and managers.

Not all feedback is positive, but whether it is positive or negative, the intention is to have a positive impact on future performance, a better performance, the best performance possible.

Feedback is not criticism. Criticism is evaluative; feedback is descriptive. Feedback provides information and opportunity to improve work quality and working relationships. While it is better late than never, feedback is best given as quickly as possible.

To be sure you are ready to give feedback when it is needed, be prepared. Understand the nature of feedback and craft your messages to have the most impact.

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

To learn how to give constructive feedback for employees that will be valuable and helpful for everyone involved, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Be specific.
    Avoid vague references and fully describe behavior and feelings.
  • Focus on the behavior, not the person.
    Everyone can be sensitive. To avoid a sensitive response to feedback, make sure you focus on the behavior and steer clear of blame.
  • Share information.
    Avoid giving advice.
  • Keep it simple and concise.
    Avoid unwanted or unneeded details.

Tips for Giving Effective Feedback

As you practice giving constructive feedback (both positive and negative), take a moment to critique your current style and how you could improve. You can use the following tips for giving feedback to employees to increase the value of the feedback you give.

Timing is critical to effective feedback.

It is always best to give feedback as quickly after the behavior has been observed as possible, but avoid giving negative feedback in public or when the receiver is emotional.

Take the time to prepare before you give feedback.

Know what you will say and how you will say it. Be sure you are communicating clearly on the goal of giving feedback.

Giving positive feedback is always easy.

It requires that you just describe what you want to highlight and give a compliment. It might be followed with “keep up the great work!” Remember, this is the feedback people want most.

Giving critical feedback is a bit trickier but it does not have to be difficult.

Critical feedback, while important, is not the feedback that most people want. However, it is feedback they sometimes need and, if delivered properly, can make a measurable difference in performance.

One of the most effective ways to give feedback is simple. It is referred to as the “sandwich method” of communication. Start with a compliment, such as, “I really appreciate that you are working very hard to complete this project.” Follow that with the behavior that needs correcting. “I have noticed you are making a number of mistakes. Could it be you are rushing to complete the project?” Finally, encourage change and offer support. “I know you can complete this project on time and with as little error as possible. You have my full support to take a few extra days if you need it.”

Feedback is clear communication.

To be useful it must be understood. One way of doing this is to have the receiver repeat back to you what they have heard. To elicit that response simply state, “To be sure you have understood, please repeat back what you heard.”

Keep in mind that feedback, no matter what the intent, can be misinterpreted and may feel threatening.

Feedback should be solicited.

For feedback to be most effective it has to be welcome. Do not wait for your employees to ask for it. Ask for permission to give it.

A simple question can make all the difference, “Would you be willing to take some feedback on the way you handled [situation]?”

Improve the Way You Give Feedback for Employees

Feedback is one of the most powerful ways to develop employees and improve performance. Those are two great reasons to take the time and effort to develop your feedback skills.

Make it a part of your regular leadership and management habits.

Business Tips from Sherry Jordan Coach

From advice on how to give constructive, valuable feedback to employees that will benefit your business, to strategic goal planning, Sherry Jordan can help ensure your business is operating at its optimal level.

If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of how you run your business, contact Sherry Jordan today!

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