At Talentedly, we are currently conducting a poll about workplace happiness (detailed results are coming). One of the many interesting findings that are coming to light: only 15 percent of you are asked to give feedback on a regular basis. Spoiler alert: This paltry number is unconscionable, and a practice that will result in disengaged employees and, eventually, a less profitable businesses (and here’s the data to prove it).
So if you want to up your company’s game, start giving feedback on a regular basis the right way.
Performance feedback should focus on just that — performance. It should reflect on someone’s actions, not their traits. Research has shown that generic trait-based feedback actually reduces later resiliency and can be demoralizing. And since it can come across as a personal criticism, many of us get defensive and emotional.
The best kind of feedback gives specific and immediate instruction. Saying “you need to be more proactive” isn’t helpful; you need to explain what they can do, not what they can be. Remember, you want to help someone do better at their job, not be better as a person. Here’s how to do it:
1. Provide details
The more you can say about who, what, when, where, why, and how — the better your feedback is. “You didn’t do that report right” doesn’t help anything or anybody. What was wrong with the report? Were there typos? Misinformation? Was it too short or too long? Make sure you can provide details about your feedback.
2. Quantify it
Don’t generalize in absolutes. If you say, “You’re always late,” the receiver might point out the fact that they were on time every day this week, and then you get bogged down by quibbling.
Instead, you should be able to quantify your feedback: “You were late to four out of the last six staff meetings.” That is a fact that will lead to further discussion, rather than circling around in a dead end.
3. Suggest, don’t tell
One of the common mistakes feedback givers make is trying to prescribe a course of action. But if the receiver doesn’t follow it, then the feedback was unproductive. Make sure to talk about future goals as suggestions, not orders.
Start looking at feedback as an opportunity to make someone work better rather than feel better; you’re likely to make them, you, and your company, more successful.