Feedback – both receiving and giving it – is an essential part of the role of leader, regardless of seniority or sector. If an employee (or worse, a leader) is unable to accept feedback, they will be unable to grow and develop. And if a manager is unable to give feedback, they can’t expect their employees to improve either. That’s why creating a culture of constant and constructive feedback is vital to a successful business.
While the importance of feedback is clear, 65% of employees say they would like more feedback than they’re currently receiving. So, what can you do as a leader to ensure your employees are getting what they need? Here are a few tips:
- Have a strategy. The way you approach giving feedback – especially corrective feedback – can drastically change the outcome of a meeting. Crafting a strategy before you meet with an employee to give feedback allows you to take into consideration the kind of relationship you have with the person, how they tend to react to feedback, and what they need from you to fully understand what you’re asking of or telling them.
- Help your employees set goals. Having a goal to work towards will help your employees feel more engaged in their work. Helping them set those goals shows that you care and that you’re invested in their future with the company.
- Remain objective. Often, a natural reaction to negative feedback is to become defensive and take criticism as a direct assault on one’s character. To pivot the discussion away from those emotions, leaders need to choose their words carefully. By using “I” instead of “you,” you can shift the direction of the conversation to what you are looking for from the employee and not what they’re doing wrong. A simple change in words – such as “I’ve noticed the last few quarterly reports have had several mistakes” rather than “You never double check your work” – can severely lessen the blow.
- Focus on change. Rather than telling an employee all the things he or she is doing wrong, it’s helpful to frame the discussion around how they can take action to improve. This puts a positive spin on a sometimes-uncomfortable topic of discussion and shows that you’re not focused on tearing them down but are proactively helping them find ways to succeed.
- Meet often. Organizations are moving away from the dreaded annual performance review. In fact, one in four Millennials would rather change jobs than undergo a yearly performance review. So rather than subjecting your employees to that, connect with them daily. While this may sound like a lot, there’s no need to set a 30-minute meeting each day. Rather, touch base with your employees via email, a quick call, or a quick drop-by to their desk or office so they know you’re available and willing to help them work through any issues that come up.
One final piece of advice: If you’re on the receiving end of feedback, it’s your responsibility as a leader to be humble, receive criticism gracefully, and trust your employees. After all, how can we ask our staff to heed our advice if we’re not willing to do the same for them?
Looking for more leadership advice? Check out the Smart HR blog. After all, as Sheryl Sandberg said, “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”