Why do we fear giving or receiving feedback?
At the end of the day, we want the people we work with to see the best of us, not the worst! Feedback gets wrapped up in feelings and sometimes anxiety. This anxiety is real for managers and employees. Providing effective feedback is rarely an easy task. That being said, research has found that employees DO want feedback from their managers.
Managers should have a plan for providing feedback and it shouldn’t just occur in a performance evaluation. While formal performance evaluations should occur at scheduled intervals, informal feedback should be provided often and regularly. It is especially important to balance negative and positive feedback. In fact, managers should try to give as much, and preferably more, positive feedback than negative feedback. If only negative feedback is provided, then the employee may become and stay defensive. In this state, the employee is less likely to improve performance or behaviors. Positive feedback increases the chances for change and improvement. Positive feedback should also be specific (e.g., “I really appreciate your attention to detail in the report” vs. “great job on the report”).
Part of the planning includes choosing the right setting. Make sure you have a private space and are free from interruptions. Set aside enough time that the employee has the opportunity to respond, clarify, and discuss the feedback. The feedback should also be provided in a timely manner. Focus on specific actions or behaviors and on the next steps for improvement. Finally, be clear about the specific impact and expectations moving forward.
A key component driving employee development is frequent feedback, enabling continuous learning and growth. WorkHuman provides a checklist with nine tips for giving feedback without the stress. The checklist is linked below with other resources, but the first tip (and probably the most important) is to establish trust. According to WorkHuman, “when an employee feels valued and trusted, they are more willing to learn from the feedback rather than immediately reject it”. It’s also important to have the “right reason” for providing feedback, such as offering support and providing guidance. Managers should also remember that micromanagement isn’t conducive to better performance management or feedback.
- Article: Don’t Confuse Feedback with a Performance Appraisal (from the Society for Human Resource Management)
- Checklist: Feedback Checklist-9 Tips for Giving Feedback (from WorkHuman)
Manager Resources provided by DASA Human Resources (June 2020)