Let's face it: The idea of giving good feedback makes us all feel awkward. We all want a fail-safe solution that never offends employees and inspires them to correct their mistakes time after time. Unfortunately, no one has the secret script that leads to such a workplace utopia. What we do have is years' worth of first-hand experience on the world of ongoing performance management, and we've kept a sharp eye on how feedback has changed over the years. Each year brings new insight on the best way to inspire, encourage and support employees. Here are three key feedback tips for 2017:
Tip No. 1: Be prepared
Employees look to you for guidance, and failing to prepare for a check-in can count against you in a significant way. After a few unproductive conversations, your employees will come to feel as though you don't value them as individuals. Alternatively, they'll think you're not as capable of leadership as they previously assumed.
Inc. recommended gathering or reviewing as many assignment-related facts as possible about an employee before going to a check-in. Find out what the person is working on, when the deadline is scheduled and who else they're working with. If this is too cumbersome, ongoing performance management software will help you reference specific details like deadlines, objectives and key results. This way, you don't have to track down team leaders and search through various calendars.
Tip No. 2: Be a mentor
Forbes Insights contributor Stuart R. Levine made a great point about the difference between old and new performance management styles. Older systems were more known for tracking mistakes and addressing them all during the end of the year. They were backward-thinking, more focused on outlining what an employee did wrong than providing areas for improvement. Today's feedback style focuses on the future, identifying ways employees can do better rather than criticizing them for prior mistakes.
This means, if an employee's performance is lackluster, brainstorm strategies for improvement. If the employee is doing a great job, look for new, challenging opportunities and invest in that person's career growth. Make a human connection by giving honest advice that helped you when you were in their footsteps. Your staff will be more receptive to a collaborative problem-solving approach than a rundown of their past blunders.
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Tip No. 3: Be truthful
Honesty is the only way your employees can reach their full potential. However, finding true, objective honesty is difficult. Understanding the distinctions between true statements and unfair criticism isn't always easy, and the same goes for spotting the difference between truth and excessive praise.
To settle this issue, Business2Community recommended using Kim Scott's method of radical candor. To truly give honest feedback, you need to care about the person you're guiding while still being clear and direct. Having both traits keeps you balanced, preventing you from overly praising or criticizing a person.
As the year progresses, managers and business leaders will surely stumble upon more tips for providing great feedback. Take what we've learned so far in 2017 and keep an open mind to what might be discovered in the future. In doing so, you'll provide the best type of support for your staff.