It took me a while to understand how feedback is important to grow. Earlier, I thought they were sugar-coated criticism, then I thought it was a way to boost the ego of one own self but now I know, feedback is an essential factor for growth, awareness, and even keeping the flow.
What is more important is to understand how one should provide feedback. A wrongly delivered feedback can cause great damage to the self-confidence of the receivers. Yes, there is no denying that feedback immensely helps in improving & becoming a better version.
Giving feedback is a skill - you can build it with practice. Let’s see what constitutes good feedback.
What constitutes good feedback?
Good feedback conveys that -
- It is commitment/concern for another.
- It is their sense of responsibility.
- It is to guide/mentor.
- It is to support/enhance.
If the feedback suggests otherwise, then that’s the cue to hold yourself back and see where you are going wrong.
Now that we know what can be considered good feedback, let’s understand why you should provide feedback to your team.
Why should you provide feedback?
There are only two kinds of feedback -
- Your team member is on the wrong track, you need them back on track.
- Your team member is doing an awesome job and they deserve to know.
Providing the second kind of feedback is comparatively easier than the first kind.
That being said, it is important to provide both kinds of feedback to the team member so that they can improve and keep doing what they are good at.
Providing feedback is important because -
- It motivates the team members to do better, to be included in the work, and to be active as team players.
- It is essential for the employee's personal development. Taking constructive criticism for an individual holds an important role to be a better communicator.
- It gives clarity. Employees need the clarity to work more efficiently, make required changes, adopt new strategies, and perform overall well.
- It keeps employees and you (manager) on the same page. It allows the employer/manager (you) to open a dialogue. It will help you to understand what you can do to help them work efficiently.
What I have noticed with some managers is even when their intention is right, their way to provide feedback is not acceptable. So, let’s understand what can as a manager you can do to improve the way you provide feedback.
How can you make sure that your feedback is effective?
If you are leading a team, then you might go through some instances where providing feedback becomes necessary for the employees’ good.
You might not want to be harsh but if you also do not want to sugarcoat, then you are at the right place, let’s see what you can do.
These are the parts for effective feedback which can help your team:
1. Feedback should be -
- Specific: It should have a clear focus & should be tied to goals (not some generic tip).
- Timely: Feedback should be given as soon as possible. Feedback regarding a project that ended months ago doesn’t stay relevant after the course of action.
- Meaningful: Suggest an actionable plan. It should be a ‘solution’ finding time, and should not look like a blame game for some failure/mistake.
- Honest: It should be candid. Not manipulative or hidden. Feedback is highly important to accelerate career growth.
2. Feedback is about the process, not the person-
- As Leo Babauta said, “Never criticize the person. Always criticize the actions”. Make sure suggestions are about actions, not the person.
- Talk about the aspects that are under one’s control.
- Keep it action-oriented.
3. Feedback should be a mixture -
- A part of the action that you genuinely appreciate.
- A part of the action that you think needs improvement.
- A few suggestions to make the ‘xyz’ better with a small set of actionable plans.
- Last but not least, a mandatory mention of follow-up discussion so that team members can understand that you are there to help if they need any.
- Provide feedback in a 1:1 meeting. It is always good to talk about your concern in a one-on-one meeting.
- An employee will appreciate it and will listen to the feedback with an open mind - you are there to support your team member not to disrespect them.
Now we that know how you can provide effective feedback, let’s understand the effect of positive feedback.
How can you provide positive feedback?
Positive feedbacks are important to support a certain standard of work and to develop performance.
A few points to keep in mind:
- Timing: Feedbacks are time-sensitive.
- Provide positive feedback in front of the team: To inspire other team members, and to keep the excitement in the team.
- Avoid over-praising: Even if you think, one team member is doing amazing work, keep the feedback meaningful, and for that, don’t overpraise.
- Link positive behavior to business results: To show why that particular employee deserves positive feedback.
- Be specific: To help them deliver the same and better result again. Be as detailed as you want but with relevant information.
- Achievements should be visible: Don’t forget to mention the achievements of the employees.
- Feedback should be focused on the future: Show them the vision that you are seeing for the team's growth and make them part of the growth. Show the future of the good work.
A startup or any organization needs a good team to climb the ladder of success. Delivering feedback is important to keep that climb as smooth as possible.