You have been promoted to manager. You are now expected to review your team’s work, all while dealing with the new demands of the role. One of the biggest challenges you will face is providing your employees with constructive feedback. As a people-manager, this is crucial for developing a high performance team and ensuring productivity. Many managers avoid giving “negative” feedback as they are afraid of the employee’s reaction, not to mention that it can be time-consuming. Nonetheless, your responsibility is to ensure the work gets done well. Here is a quick guide to help a first-time manager make feedback both impactful and effective:
Immediate: Give the criticism as soon as possible after the event. The worst thing managers can do is to bring up a situation that occurred many months ago and expect the employee to remember. The likelihood of the news being well-received is higher when given in a timely manner.
Document: Write down notes to keep track and record the employee’s performance and mistakes. This way, when it comes time to sit down for either a formal or informal review, you have concrete examples at hand. This is especially important from a legal perspective when poor performance can lead to dismissal.
Specific: State specifically how the person did not meet expectations or where they were at fault. It is very important to be direct and to avoid mixed messages. Provide specific examples so the employee can digest the information in a concrete way. Leave no room for interpretation, and especially, no sugar-coating or the employee may not understand how important it is that they improve.
Impactful: Explain how the event or behavior affected you, the team, the organization and/or the client. Make sure the person is aware of the consequence(s) of their performance or action. Avoid giving feedback that has no meaning or is irrelevant to the person’s job description and scope of abilities.
Encouraging: The ultimate goal of giving feedback is to encourage new and wanted behaviours. When delivering the message, focus on the desired future behaviours and performance and the role you can play to help them improve. Don’t scold your employee or undermine his/her intelligence. Remember, mistakes can happen or rather, unavoidable circumstances can play a role in someone’s performance. Let your employee know that you are there to help them.
Manner: Remember, how you say something often carries more weight than what you say. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Talk to them the way you wish to be spoken to. Pay attention to your tone, body language and show confidence. Make sure your non-verbal cues don’t portray something different other than what you are trying to say. For example, don’t avoid making eye contact or fidgeting in your chair when speaking – it will make you appear unsure and could diminish your credibility. Rehearse what you would like to say ahead of time. Or, why not try practicing on someone completely neutral and unrelated to the situation such as a friend, your dog or a house plant!