What does performance feedback mean to you? Difficult conversations? Fighting your corner? Or do you relish the thought? Do you give regularly congratulate your team for a job well done, even if it’s the job they do all the time? This article has 7 tips to make performance feedback easier and more effective.
Performance feedback – why should I bother?
I once worked for a great manager, who used to say, “Thanks for today,” when I left to go home, even when it had been just an ordinary day. It made me feel valued.
Regularly appreciating your employees’ efforts will make feedback easy to give, and more readily accepted, because your team will appreciate what you say and respect it, even when it’s not good news. If your team appreciate you and are learning from you, they are becoming more (cost) effective.
7 tips for effective performance feedback
For occasions where more formal performance feedback is required, thorough preparation and a clear vision of the outcome(s) you want are important. Here are my 7 tips for constructive feedback:
- Make enough time for it – it’s important to the person receiving the feedback, and for your relationship with them, so make sure your discussion time is not rushed.
- Make it structured – set the agenda at the outset: that way, you’ll stay on track for the discussion.
- Make sure you have all the facts – a written summary is useful, and gives you confidence in what you’re saying. Give the other person a copy so you both have a record of what was discussed.
- Make it a two-way process – this isn’t all about your opinion; it’s a professional, respectful conversation.
- Make it relevant – use the “so what?” factor in your feedback – instead of just describing what happened, describe the impact of what happened.
- Make it objective – don’t be swayed by emotions when feeding back, but do tailor your tone and style carefully to the nature of the other person.
- Make it valuable – encourage reflective practice and agree developmental action points which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). Most importantly, make sure you follow up those action points.
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Feed forward and how it can help a team
The “feed forward” method is a group activity which can help everybody learn and improve their performance. Each person describes a challenge they are currently working on. The others give their opinion about how the challenge might be met, always starting with the words: “If it were me, I would . . . ”
The idea is that no-one tells the other person what they should do (no dominating/instructing); they just contribute their suggestion. Once the suggestion has been given, the person with the challenge merely answers, “Thank you.”
They can then privately choose either to take that suggestion on board, or to dismiss it, but there is no discussion allowed (and therefore no rejection of anyone’s ideas). This activity promotes a great, non-judgemental ideas forum, providing positive feedback to each other.
A performance changer
Performance feedback is integral to your role as the leader of your firm and, carefully given, the key to maintaining a forward-thinking, responsive team.
Have you ever received feedback that either inspired or demotivated you? How can you learn from that?