5 Tips on Giving More Effective Feedback

As I’m about to deliver a workshop to a client about giving and receiving feedback, I thought I’d take that opportunity to talk about feedback with you as well.

Because in its essence, the center of both personal and professional development is feedback.

“Employees are more likely to learn and grow when they receive immediate feedback that is specific, targeted at their development and able to be put into practice right away.”
– Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report

Or as Ken Blanchard says, “Champions eat feedback for breakfast” 🙂

But giving feedback, whether good or bad, can be challenging.

To help you out, I put together my 5 best tips for making feedback more impactful.

Now, before we get to that, let’s review the 3 key components of effective feedback.

3 Key Components Of Effective Feedback

Sometimes feedback is positive, and sometimes it’s negative. Remember that both are equally important.

The goal of giving negative feedback should be to help your employee improve, and giving positive feedback should make them feel valued, motivating them to keep up the good work.

When giving any kind of employee feedback, you want to make sure to touch on 3 key things: their behavior, its effect on others or the work, and the next steps.

  • The Behavior: What the employee did and how they did it.
  • The Effect: What resulted from the employee’s behavior and how it impacted the team and the company.
  • The Next Steps: How to maintain positive outcomes, improve average outcomes, or work to solve negative ones.

Quick Tip: Sometimes positive feedback stands alone. Receiving recognition is super important to your employees, and it’s okay to leave out the next steps when you’re giving certain positive feedback. Congratulations on a job well done can be all that’s needed.

5 Tips on Giving More Effective Feedback

In any circumstance, you want to try to remember the 3 key components of effective feedback. To take your employee feedback to the next level, consider the following tips:

1. Focus On The Behavior, Not The Person

This is probably the most important tip when it comes to negative feedback. You want to focus on the behavior and problem-solving rather than scolding the person.

For example, instead of saying something like: You keep not showing up to meetings and you’re missing important information.

You could try: I noticed you weren’t at the last two team meetings. I’m worried that you missed some important information that you need to be successful in your projects.

2. Remember That Feedback Is Your Opinion

Sometimes, leaders will say something like “they feel” or “we think” to give the impression that the feedback is coming from everyone, not just them.

People might do this to try to make the message more powerful or to make it seem less personal. Doing this could actually have the opposite effect though because the employee could assume it’s the opinion of people who don’t know them and their work as well.

As their direct manager, employees want your opinion. Use “I” when you’re giving feedback, it will have a much greater impact.

3. Don’t Do The Feedback Sandwich

People often promote sandwiching negative feedback in the middle of positive feedback to soften the blow.

Don’t do this.

In a research paper called Tell Me What I Did Wrong that looked at how different personality types responded to feedback, they found that the feedback sandwich doesn’t work most of the time.

The problem is that the negative feedback ends up getting buried and people only hear the positive part.

Turns out it’s better to just be straightforward. Employees will appreciate your honesty.

4. Don’t Be Too One-Sided

When feedback is mostly negative, studies have shown that it discourages future effort.

Recognition is just as important as feedback, so acknowledge employees’ good work alongside your constructive criticisms.

Especially, since we know by now that it takes about 6 instances of good feedback to counteract one piece of negative feedback.

On the flip side, if you only ever give your employees praise it might not be helping them to grow. Don’t downplay their success, but try to find ways that they could take things to the next level.

5. Do Follow Up

This one might seem obvious, but remember to follow up on the feedback you give.

You want to help your employees track their progress and figure out what’s working and what isn’t.

Making feedback more frequent will help with this because you can start by checking in on whatever you established the last time you spoke.

If it’s going well, you can work on ways to take it to the next level. If it hasn’t gone as well as expected, you can discuss why and how best to move forward.

Giving effective employee feedback as a manager can be difficult, especially when you’re dealing with a situation you’ve never faced before.

Just remember the 3 key components and you’re bound to get your message across.

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