9 Tips for Giving Better Feedback
Providing ratings as the sole element of a performance evaluation has become a thing of the past these days. The trend lead by big organisations like Accenture and Deloitte is a shift away from the traditional rank based appraisal system towards a more agile performance management which encourages and embraced ongoing conversations focussed towards employee growth and development. While formal evaluations may be losing relevance, offering and receiving feedback is still considered to be an important aspect of the appraisal process. This article provides you with some tips for providing better feedback.
1. Focus on Actionable Insights instead of Numbers
A recent study found approx 62% variance in ratings observed with quantifying numbers by the rater’s perception. Companies and their respective HR departments. However, the fact is that the numbers you bring on to the table say a lot more about you than the individual you are providing the feedback on. To provide better feedback, you must ignore numerical indicators and instead focus on actionable and more meaningful insights.
2. One Size Does Not Fit All
While providing feedback, you need to understand that not all feedback is equal. Employees may react differently to both positive as well as negative feedback owing to a lot of personal factors. One of such factors is an individual’s experience. Research has established the best kind of feedback to an employee depends on whether the individual is an expert or a rookie. Seasoned employees respond to negative feedback in a better way, while rookies require more of positive feedback to boost their confidence levels. Hence you need to keep in mind that one size does not fit all while providing feedback.
3. Avoid Unconscious Biases
While you need to tailor your feedback based on the experience level of an individual, it’s important to treat everyone equally. Research has proven that language used by managers while addressing different employees vary from person to person. Social scientists have observed in the performance of men compared to women, the reviews about women focus less on individual achievements and seem to contain only one-third of feedback regarding business outcomes. These types of unconscious biases prevent you from providing the feedback that the employees need to hear to improve. If you discuss business outcomes with only two-thirds of your employees, then you are not just being disadvantageous to the people but also putting the entire business in a disadvantageous position.
4. Avoid Sandwiching Feedback
People tend to bury constructive, and even negative feedback, at between praises. This makes it challenging for your employees to clearly comprehend areas of improvement. Behavioural scientists have observed that the famous HR technique of praise sandwich often leads to people completely missing constructive feedback. It’s much better to offer direct feedback, even if it may require a difficult conversation. This will at least help the message to be conveyed in a clear and direct manner.
5. Avoid Being Critical or Judgmental
People tend to be more receptive towards feedback if they don’t feel threatened. Embrace feedback as a routine exercise for your employees so that they benefit from it. The objective of providing feedback is not to be critical or judgmental but to offer constructive criticism. Avoid going into discussions statistics, spreadsheets, etc. which makes the discussion feel more like an interrogation session. Be aware of your body language and keep the format of conversation formal but provide opportunities for the employee to bring up issues and respond to the points. If a review is treated more like an open discussion, it is likely to evoke much better results in due course of time.
6. Create a Culture of Feedback
If you make feedback an integral element of your work culture and routine, it’s more likely to have a positive outcome. It also makes the process of giving and receiving feedback easier. When you create a culture of feedback, it allows issues to be addressed no sooner than they show up. It also helps to keep your employees stress free on how they will be perceived by you or their colleagues. This helps them to focus better at work.
7. Keep Your Focus on the Other Individual
Appreciate you are in this discussion to review someone else and not yourself. So try to keep your focus on the other individual and think about how they can improve. You should ask open ended questions and always encourage a dialogue instead of a monologue. If possible, allow them to lead the discussion. This will make them critically analyse their own performance.
8. Think towards the future
The feedback you offer should be focussed towards the future. When you do so, your employees felt empowered and encouraged to change, if they feel that you are thinking about their future as well. An easy means of doing so is to use the word ‘yet’ at the end of your statements. In this way, you can turn a negative criticism into a constructive one and keep your feedback growth oriented. When you use the word ‘yet’ in your feedback, it makes you sound futuristic.
9. Provide Feedback with Right Intentions
The entire objective of providing better feedback is because you have right intentions regarding the performance of your employees. You wish to see them succeed and achieve more. The objective of providing feedback is not to camouflage the negative pointers or to avert the difficult conversations. It is about having goals, improving communication, and enabling an open discussion with your employees in the higher interest of the organisation. If you can provide actionable and constructive feedback, you employees will realise the significance of feedback as well.