True Value in Effective Feedback
If you don’t give your employees feedback on their performance—whether on a daily basis or, at least, at performance reviews—they’ll never improve. Then why do so many entrepreneurs do such a horrible job of providing feedback?
Many of us aren’t “people persons” and it simply doesn’t occur to us to tell people how they’re doing. Often, entrepreneurs are take-charge types who, if something isn’t done the way they like it, grab the reins and do it themselves, not giving their employees a chance to improve. Finally, some of us want to give feedback, but fear coming off too harsh with negative criticism.
How can you get over these hurdles to provide feedback that will help your employees learn, grow and improve their job performance? Here are some tips all leaders can use.
- Set a goal. Consider what you want the feedback to achieve for your business. Don’t criticize someone simply to vent your frustration; always have a larger goal such as helping the person to improve, preventing customer issues, or increasing sales. By showing the employee that you have a larger goal in mind, feedback will seem less of a personal criticism.
- Begin with the good stuff. Try to find something positive about the way an employee handled a task or situation. This will put them in a receptive frame of mind. After they have absorbed the positive praise, bring up any negative criticism. (Keep in mind, not every instance of feedback has to involve negativity. Rewarding employees with positive feedback for a job done well has a strong reinforcement effect.)
- Provide detail. Give specifics as to what was done right or wrong and why this was helpful or hurtful. (“You answered the phone on the first ring, which conveys a positive impression to our customers. Great job!”) If you want the employee to change how he or she is doing something, be specific about what they should do and why.
- Allow questions. Always make sure the employee feels comfortable asking for clarification on your feedback. You can ask them, “Does that make sense to you?” or “Do you have any questions about that?” to confirm that they’ve understood what you said.
- Follow up. If you ask an employee to do something differently, pay attention to see whether they learn from the feedback. If so, comment positively on the progress. If not, continue to provide feedback until they get it right.
You’ll be surprised how much feedback can improve your business when it’s used correctly.