Tide Ventures

Once again, we are at that time of the year which moves really fast. The holiday season is closing in and organisations are in a rush to accomplish the objectives that were set at the very beginning of the year. Has the wheel come full circle or are there gaps to fill? This will be clarified through end of year performance review meeting in which managers and employers are meant to give constructive feedback to their employees. Yet not many employees look forward to this exercise.

What is feedback?
Basically, feedback is information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal. A football player kicks the ball with the goal of getting it into the net and s/he watches to see where it lands—in or out. A comedian tells a joke with the goal of making people laugh, and then s/he observes the audience’s reaction—they laugh loudly or barely snicker and that’s the feedback.

Who gives feedback?
Employee Feedback Goes Both Ways
Evaluation is tough and it takes a lot of thought and care to do it properly. Therefore, before you give your own feedback, start by listening to them about where they believe they did well, what contributed to their doing well in those areas, where they struggled and what was missing for them in those areas. Also, make sure you give your employee the opportunity to speak up in your meeting or get in touch with you about it afterwards.
This way, you’ll get to know how to support your employees to become the best version of themselves and to offer their best to their work.

What objective do you want to achieve by giving this feedback?
Feedback is not criticism, condemnation or judgment. Feedback is critical for positive learning environments.
Effective feedback arrives with the spirit of improvement of the individual and the team. Effective feedback moves the individual toward the best version of themselves in various areas of their lives and work.
Should come with an interest of listening to your employee and understanding what they are dealing with, what is helping them to achieve best results and what is standing in their way of achieving best results?

How do you give feedback?

1. Feedback should be spiral.
Basically, offer constructive criticism for a colleague or employee and ask them to do the same for someone else in turn.
It isn’t always easy to take and certainly not easy to give constructive criticism, but if it’s done thoughtfully, usefully and with the best of intentions it will help improve the quality of that person’s work and may even boost their productivity.
This will in turn give them greater job satisfaction, teach them empathy as they give others feedback as they also would love to be evaluated with empathy.

2. Be Very clear and specific.
Employee feedback should be task-focused, crystal clear, and to the point.
General comments like “Your work needs to be improved” or “I wasn’t very impressed with those reports: you have to do better than that” are ambiguous and will leave your employee confused and in the dark as to what aspect of their work needs to be corrected.
Be specific on what they need to do: “You have consistently brought in your department’s end of month report on 30th. While it’s a good report, this timing makes it hard to incorporate it in the final general report which has to be sent to the board on every 30th. You need to bring in your report every 27th day of the month for smooth reporting.
It’s clear what you need the employee to do, by when and why it’s important.

3. Giving feedback should be an ongoing exercise.
Nip issues in the bud as they occur. If left unsaid, the problems will only recur and may multiply so that by the time the quarterly performance review comes around, you’ll be faced with having to address a host of issues that could have been avoided if mentioned earlier or that could cause a lot of damage. It is also likely you will be forgotten by the time the review comes around unless you are one to keep a record of wrongs- which is very unhealthy for any relationship, personal or professional alike. Daily or weekly reviews will make tracking and analyzing a colleague’s work much easier, and feedback will be up to date.
Besides, as an organization, we should operate as a family with our main intention being to nurture one another to grow and to become all and everything they were created to be.
Would you live your child or brother to go on making a mistake as you wait for quarterly report? NO! That would take away an opportunity to learn and become better. Use the same principal in the organization.

4. Focus on Performance, Not Personality.
Focus on employees actions (what they do) rather than on their personality traits (what they’re like). For example
“When you give a financial report with a deficit but lacks clear details the cause of our loss of income, it makes it had to take corrective action” (behavior) will probably be easier for the person receiving the criticism than…
“Your mediocrity is causing a problem to the company” (Characteristic/Personality trait)…
…simply because the first is appealing to the person’s actions rather than their character.

5. Identify and Focus on Individual Efforts.
“Part of the problem with reviews is that human nature hasn’t changed – few of us enjoy hearing about our shortcomings, and few of our bosses and colleagues look forward to describing them. Part of the problem is that work itself has changed – it’s more team- oriented, less individualistic. The tougher it is to measure individual performance, the tougher it is to evaluate it.”, says Gina Imperato in Fast Company.
However, hard as it is to curve out individual effort in a teams achievement, know your team members and give credit where credit is due.

6. Make negative feedback confidential.
Don’t criticize publicly – ever.
Even with praise, let the individual have the feedback first before a public announcement- unless it’s an awards dinner where everyone knows there is a possibility for an award or praise. Some people simply don’t like being the center of attention. And allow the opportunity of feedback without a face-to-face meeting as it can make it easier for a person to say what they really think.

7. Affirm as much as you critic
In his book “You’ve Got To Be Believed To Be Heard”, Bert Decker called it a 3×3 method. He proposed that asking your managers to provide three strengths and three areas of potential development in all feedback meetings would making the feedback meetings productive.
Receiving three by three bits of feedback at a time allows people to make corrections and keep moving onward and upward.” They are also likely to remember them and focusing on them will be easier. They will see your comments as a call for growth and development rather than an effort by you to bruise their ego.

8. End on a Positive Note
Helping someone to improve should always be the goal of constructive criticism and going back over past mistakes in your closing comments will leave them with a negative impression of the meeting.
When something needs fixed, mention it at the beginning of your conversation (and read this before you say anything) but if you leave the problem to the end, any words of encouragement you’ve given during the meeting will be forgotten.
Above all, be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.

9. Employee Feedback Goes Both Ways
Evaluation is tough and it takes a lot of thought and care to do it properly. Therefore, before you give your own feedback, start by listening to them about where they believe they did well, what contributed to their doing well in those areas, where they struggled and what was missing for them in those areas. Also, make sure you give your employee the opportunity to speak up in your meeting or get in touch with you about it afterwards.
This way, you’ll get to know how to support your employees to become the best version of themselves and to offer their best to their work.

Watch out People will Resist Feedback
Most people don’t like hearing about their flaws. The ego of the average person is fragile. It likes to think it’s perfect; it hates hearing that it’s not—partly a result of having a fixed mindset.
How do you offer feedback in a way in which others will be receptive to hearing it?
To overcome the resistance people have to receive feedback, try to help others come to the necessary conclusions on their own.
Whenever possible, allow them to take ownership of improving their performance.

Use powerful Questions
Scott Jeffrey, a transformational coach suggests that one way of cause employees to take ownership of their own improvement process is through the artful use of questions.

When you’re reviewing an employee’s proposal, for example, you might ask:
• What’s the primary objective of the proposal?
• Do you feel this proposal has achieved this objective?
• Do you see places where the project may be improved?
• If there was a primary message that needed to be clarified, what might it be?
• What is the ideal response you’re looking for from this pitch?
• How else can you help ensure that it will receive that response?

This line of questioning allows the person to become aware of areas of improvement and take ownership of the changes.
Of course, your tone and intention in engaging others is another important factor. If you come across as arrogant, all-knowing, and impatient, it doesn’t matter how well-crafted your questions are.
If, however, you genuinely want to see the person succeed, he or she will intuit your intention and push for higher performance.
To overcome the feedback barrier: Don’t command, criticize, or dictate. Instead, ask permission.
May I offer a few suggestions on this project?
Criticism raises people’s defense mechanisms; compassion reduces it. Ask questions with the intention of bringing out the best performance and best qualities in others. If you do, everyone wins.

Take the role of a coach for your team with grace. A coach is always available and listens to his players.
Keep growing your own skills of giving feedback. Yes, you can ask for feedback on your feedback. If your team members trust you, they will feel comfortable giving you honest comments upon your request.
Players listen to great coaches not because they are authority figures, but because they respect their coach and know that the coach has the players’ and the team’s best interest in mind.
Your employees will welcome your feedback when they feel you genuinely care and want to support them.
Finally remember, all effective communication comes from the heart. Business may be business, but people are still people.

 

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