Feedback – An Essential Management Competency

What’s the most important part of performance management? Hint, it’s not filling out the annual performance appraisal form. It’s the feedback, timely, effective feedback. Yet feedback is something that managers try to avoid because they associate feedback with negativity. All employees want to know “How am I doing?” This is especially true for the Millennial Generation. The following are quick pointers for managers and team leaders:

· Reinforcement is the most effective form of feedback.
· Conversely, criticism is the most ineffective form. It overpowers all other forms.
· The difference between criticism and advice is a difference in timing. Most criticism can be given as advice.
· Praise accomplishments!
· When feedback is mixed, the impact is diluted. Be clear and concise. Let the employee know what they are doing well and what they need to do differently.
· State specifically what you’ve observed – both positive and negatives. Remember the what, when, where. Give examples that support your points.
· Concentrate on observable behaviors and results and not the person. Express observations calmly and factually.
· Describe specifically what you want to reinforce and/or correct and explain why it’s important.
· Describe the consequences of not correcting negative behavior or performance.

When providing feedback, remember that differences matter. Not everyone sees the world through the same set of lenses. Revise your mental model, get rid of the noise, acknowledge and respect differences, and recognize barriers to communication. Ask yourself:

· Are my words escalating a negative situation?
· Am I communicating clearly?
· Am I getting all the information I need?
· Is it possible that my words and actions are being misinterpreted?
· Are my assumptions creating barriers?

Consider how one employee described her manager’s approach to providing positive feedback, stating that it goes a long way.
· He addresses people directly and privately.
· He appreciates your diligence to get the work completed in a correct and timely fashion.
· He compliments you on the work you are assigned to do as well as when you go above and beyond what is expected.
· He shows appreciation.
· He recognizes the unique nature of the job.
· He makes you feel recognized and valued.
· He treats everyone with dignity and respect.

Delivering effective feedback is a skill that managers and leaders can perfect. Make sure the feedback is timely (when the behavior or performance occurs) and do it often. Even if the feedback is around negative issues, employees will welcome it and feel respected. Don’t assume your “superstars” automatically know they are doing a great job. They want to hear it and they want to hear how they can do even better.

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