Regardless of its nature, be it positive or negative, delivering feedback requires mastery and focusing on details. It is a vital skill for all managers or team leaders, both in multinational organisations and small startups. To master preparing feedback is a process which takes a fair amount of time and practice.
Completing both personal and business growth cycle in every organisation is unimaginable without feedback. A business venture without exchange between co-workers is like playing football without goal posts.
The impact of feedback can be quite powerful – it can help people unleash their potential, improve business and create a healthier, more open work environment. Of course, its influence will depend on the way it’s used. Preparing and delivering inspiring, effective and helpful.feedback should be in every project manager or corporate leader’s agenda.
Before going any further, let’s define the contexts in which we use feedback. It can be done both within the organisation, internally (manager-employee) or outside of the organisation, externally (customer-supplier). Regardless of circumstances, the goal of feedback remains the same: communicate the good aspects that should be maintained and/or the areas that need to be improved.
Primary Goals of Giving Feedback
Just like profit maximisation, sales volume and operational efficiency, feedback is an essential part of having a well-rounded management process in the organisation and maintaining desired working environment and productivity.
There are two sides to feedback. From the management’s point of view, it is a tool used to deliver delicate messages to a person or a group of people in a controlled environment. On the other hand, helping to correct personal behaviour and understand expectations and needs makes it a catalyst for personal and professional growth.
It is an effective solution to providing necessary guidance promptly, either to set someone back on track or to support effective performance.
Feedback is also an excellent opportunity to get field impressions on operational topics. Often management seems “far away” from the day to day work. This creates negative feelings towards the hierarchy and is also considered as an excuse to work outside the processes. Feedback allows people to express themselves by lowering the gap between colleagues and management.
One Step Closer to Company Goals
Many organisations use feedback to encourage some healthy competition. Feedback is given in a way that ensures the idea of performance expectations is clearly communicated. For instance, a customer service organisation can create a detailed chart stating the number of satisfied customers and number of calls made to customers. That way, the company can determine whether they are fulfilling customers’ expectations or not. It serves as a motivational system to enhance performance standards.
In the context of business operations, it ensures that desired service standards are being met. If it does not fall in line with set standards, the organisation can form corrective measures to tackle identified deficiencies.
Motivating an employee requires more than inspiring vision and charisma. Providing them with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes creates the right kind of conditions for them to grow and develop as professionals. The right type of feedback at the right time gives them enough motivation to perform optimally. Phrases like “good job” or “job well done” are the smallest part of good feedback.
Just like our body needs nutrients, oxygen, and blood to function properly, our brains require constructive comments. Feedback affects our brains at a higher level by activating emotional centres. It enables us to perform well and improve the quality of our work by using high-level thinking skills.
The Timing of Preparing Feedback
The effectiveness and quality of feedback greatly depend on the timing – when it is being formed and delivered. Failing to estimate the right time may lead to catastrophic results instead of improvements. As a smart and responsible manager or leader, you must recognise the clues and situations where you are required to act and provide constructive feedback.
Some appropriate situations requiring forming a constructive feedback:
- Highlighting specific performance pointers (this is required when an employee’s performance falls below expected level or he/she does exceptional work; it also applies to business partners, co-workers, etc.)
- Following or catching up on coaching discussions
- Providing suggestive or corrective guidelines (it acts as a gentle reminder of guidance to follow the right path in future)
- Informing a business partner or employee about the consequences of their current performance or behaviour
Some appropriate clues requiring forming a constructive feedback:
- Unresolved or persistent business challenges, unexpected crisis or other specific situations demanding urgent intervention
- Frequent and repetitive errors or mistakes (it applies to business operations, processes, or employee/partner behaviour)
- Someone requests an honest and comprehensive feedback on their existing performance
- Disturbing or dissatisfying peer habits or behaviours
Techniques & Tools to Ensure Effective Feedback
An effective leader or manager knows what kind of feedback to give from time to time. The trick lies in preparing feedback that is constructive in nature and offers some value to its receiver. The purpose of delivering a constructive feedback is to build things up, not break them down. That’s why it becomes imperative to understand basic tools and techniques to ensure that it serves its real purpose.
- Don’t judge – explain: Avoid using evaluative language
- Stick to the facts: Describe what you’ve observed, and stay away from interpretations and assumptions
- Stay objective: Don’t focus on the person, but on his/her behaviour. The key is in preparing feedback based on facts and actual behaviour of employees, not on your perception.
- Maintain positive and negative feedback balance
- Prioritise: Do not overload feedback, focus on primary points to convey desired feedback in brief
Preparing feedback and delivering it properly and regularly improves performance and productivity of both the organisation and its workforce, so make sure you invest your time to make yours constructive and timely. It will pay off.