Giving feedback is a crucial part of a leader’s responsibilities, but it’s not always easy to do. These tips will ensure that your feedback is both constructive and motivating.
1. Be Clear and Specific
When we’re nervous about confronting a problem, we sometimes water down our advice in an effort to be kind. But feedback that is cloudy or too general is the least effective feedback and can actually lead to further frustration in both the leader and the employee. Giving thoughtful, direct, specific feedback, with a motive of fairness and caring, will help your employees understand what they need to work on, and how they can improve. And that will benefit everyone.
2. Avoid General Comments
It’s important to avoid making general comments, such as, “you need to be more organized.” Instead, be more specific about the problem and also be ready to offer a solution or desired result. “Could you please organize your desk? I believe it will help you be more efficient.” This way, employees will know exactly what is expected from them and why it’s important to you and your company culture.
3. Use “I” Statements
Employees thrive when they feel that their leaders care about them and are on their side. One way to achieve this is to use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You’re not doing your job right,” try, “I noticed that you didn’t complete your task list today. How can I help?” This will instill in your employees a team spirit, and let them know that you care about their success, and are willing to work together to improve their performance.
4. Avoid Negative Language
Negative language can make it difficult for employees to hear what you’re trying to say. Instead of using words like “don’t” or “can’t,” try using positive words like “please,” or, “thank you.” This will help your employees feel appreciated, and more likely to listen to your feedback.
5. Be Aware of Your Tone
Your tone of voice can be just as important as the words you use. Avoid sounding angry, condescending, or frustrated. Be sure that your heart and motives are in the right place–that you’re giving feedback from a place of genuine concern, not out of frustration. Because no matter how carefully you craft what you want to say, your words will reflect your emotions, positive or negative.
6. Follow up
After you’ve given your specific, positive, helpful feedback, make sure to follow up with your employees. Ask them how they’re doing, and give them a chance to ask any questions they may have. This will ensure that your feedback was understood and that your employees understand how to put it into practice.
Done properly, feedback can morph from an agonizing drudgery to a constructive means of communication. And it will provide your company culture with a sense that you value personal development and improvement.