Effective feedback can inspire, uplift, and motivate people to do great things, so as managers it’s a skill we need to master. People often forget that there are two flavours of feedback, so whilst praise might be easy to give, it's far more challenging to criticise your employees. Even writing the word ‘criticise’ makes me feel uncomfortable –somehow ‘negative feedback’ sounds so much better but is exactly the same.
Many managers bottle up all feedback — both positive and negative — because they can't find a way to raise issues that need handling. In addition, most employees fear hearing the words ‘Can I give you some feedback’ because it’s all too often followed by a stream of criticism that’s built up over a long period of time. It is no surprise that research from Breathe found that almost one quarter (23%) of the UK small business workforce only receive feedback once a year during their annual reviews, whilst 21% never receive feedback from their manager at all.
It would be so much better if managers become addicted to giving feedback so that they master the art and employees grow to expect and appreciate it rather than fear it. Here are five tips that you can use to help you create a feedback habit and ensure that feedback is effective.
How to create a feedback habit
Don't hold back until there is 'enough' feedback to warrant a meeting. A quick chat or pat on the back is all it takes.
Get the balance right between positive and negative feedback. 7 positive to 1 negative seems to be about the right ratio.
Strike while its current and fresh in everyone's memory. If you leave it too long the details will get hazy and the employee may not even remember the situation.
Stick to what you heard or saw. The key word is 'you' - anecdotal feedback is always open for dispute and you certainly should not get caught up in what you think happened.
Praise in public, correct in private. Maybe this goes without saying but in the heat of the moment, this golden rule can sometimes be forgotten.