Three Keys to Giving Feedback Without Stress by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
So often, leaders cringe at the thought of giving feedback to employees. The first idea that comes to mind may be that you anticipate a negative response from the employee. If you shake your head “yes” to this idea, it usually means that, for you, giving employee feedback really means giving “negative employee feedback”. You’re talking about coaching an employee on performance or behavior that is undesirable. This is a trap that often makes feedback sessions uncomfortable for both the giver and the receiver. Here are three tips that can help reduce the anxiety associated with providing feedback to employees.
1) Feedback should be frequent. When employees receive regular feedback it becomes a normal part of the routine. When feedback is a “special event”, or worse, an annual event, it naturally produces stress. Talking regularly with employees about how business is going, both in general and in regard to their own work makes the event more natural and less likely to create a “what have I done wrong” thought in the employee’s mind.
2) Feedback should be good, too. The biggest trap that leaders fall into is getting so busy that they only get around to feedback when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. When you take the time to talk with employees regularly about both the good and the bad, you make employees more comfortable, and more motivated to continue good performance, as well as correct bad performance.
3) Feedback should be immediate. When there is a problem, it is not unusual for leaders to fail to address the issue, believing it will “work itself out”. While this may be the case sometimes, when it isn’t the case, you have allowed an employee to continue with an action you don’t like for far too long. At this point, their failure to perform is just as much your problem as theirs. When you do address it, don’t let any frustration you might harbor about the continued behavior get in the way. People can only correct what they are aware of. Address the issue fairly, and then resolve not to let future issues linger.
It sounds very cliché, but “catching people doing something right” really is the best way to motivate employees to perform. When you regularly point out the things they are doing well, they are far more receptive when you have a criticism. It may sound very counterintuitive to suggest increasing the frequency of something you already dread, but more regular feedback leads to more comfortable feedback for both parties.
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