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The importance of providing feedback to employees

For managers and team leaders, providing feedback to employees is an important part of the leadership role – but it’s also one of the most difficult.
Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

Many people find themselves struggling to give honest feedback or constructive criticism to the people around them. After all, everyone wants to be liked; it’s a natural human tendency. When it comes to feedback, it can be quite hard to hear things that we need to change about ourselves. People can feel threatened, angry or upset after receiving feedback that they consider to be negative.

Yet, without feedback, individuals will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. In the workplace, it’s a manager’s responsibility to guide employees to improved behaviours and results, for both themselves and the business.

Being in a management position doesn’t mean that you’re instantly an expert on knowing how to give feedback to staff. But rather than avoiding this part of your job, it’s important to recognise feedback for what it is – and that is a powerful tool and a positive opportunity to learn.

Improve the way you deliver feedback to staff

Often, we hold back for fear of upsetting the person, or making them angry. Sometimes providing feedback can feel like opening a can of worms that will lead to more trouble than it’s worth. But avoiding conversations about feedback, because you’re worried how people will react, isn’t beneficial for either party. Especially in a work environment.

Check out these five easy steps for delivering feedback to staff:

  1. Ask for permission – a simple “hey, have you got a minute for some quick feedback?” can help the person receiving the feedback be mentally ready for it
  2. Be specific – use specific examples about the person’s behaviour, not statements about their personality or character
  3. Explain the impact – explain the impact that resulted from the behaviour you’re addressing.
  4. Use silence – give the person time to think through what you’ve said
  5. Suggest how to improve – give one or two actionable suggestions that the other person could use to change their behaviour

Avoid feedback fights with your employees

There are generally two ways people respond to feedback they don’t like. They will often simply disregard the feedback – “yeah, whatever, what do you know?” or discount the source of the feedback – “well you’re not perfect, who are you to judge my behaviour?” Or, secondly, they will get angry and argue. Which is why so many people avoid giving feedback in the first place.

All of these scenarios are undesirable. So what can managers do instead?

Managers can learn how to tap into a third kind of response – curiosity. By tapping into an individual’s curiosity and avoid the feedback fight response you can avoid some common mistakes when delivering your feedback. You’ll be making a solid investment into your future relationships and career, becoming a much better manager in the process. Feedback is an important tool for constructive criticism that aids personal and professional development – try to teach and show your employees that!

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