The Leader’s Guide To Employee Feedback

by Gabby Davis Feb 12,2019

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Feedback is always a tricky line to tread.  Leaders are in the unfortunate position of maintaining a delicate balance between being too overbearing or coming off as too lax.

Because feedback is such a balancing act, most leaders are not sure how to offer feedback, how often to offer feedback in some cases, or even whether to offer feedback at all because they feel like feelings might be hurt. The thing about leadership is, if you can’t give feedback effectively to people, then you are not doing a very good job of being a leader.

Good leaders know how to share good feedback. And more importantly, they know that sharing feedback affects a number of factors. Employees who receive feedback regularly are happier, experience higher levels of employee engagement and are better motivated. 

These skills don’t always come naturally to most people and that can be a cause of worry. However, they can be cultivated. Here are a few tips that can help you, as a leader, share effective feedback and provide employees with the coaching they deserve.

Focus on the behavior, not on the person

Very often, when sharing feedback, it becomes very easy to focus on the person and lose sight of the behavior you want to address. Very often, people adopt behaviors that can help them do better, or they adopt them unconsciously because of the people who surround them. When feedback addresses behavior as opposed to a person, it does not feel like a personal attack. It focuses on something a person can change.

For example:- Emmeline, I need you to stop relying on X behavior to finish work. How about utilizing Y behavior instead? You might find it easier and less stressful to work this way.

It gets the point across without making the person feel like they are being unfairly put on the spot.

Also read: What Should You Do When Blindsided By Negative Feedback?

Don’t mince words

It can be very tempting to temper feedback (especially of the negative kind) with a few words of praise. However, doing this might not get you the reaction you hoped for. Instead, it will dilute the feedback you have shared. And it will certainly create false expectations because your employee will assume that everything is alright.

It’s very easy to lose context in the workplace because we place so much emphasis on polishing our tone and voice. Be clear about what you want to share, and don’t beat around the bush.

Be compassionate

Compassion is an important quality to have, especially as a leader. When sharing feedback, it’s important to remember that there’s a real person at the opposite, one with very human feelings and emotions.

You don’t have to bend over backward to baby someone’s behaviors. But you can understand that feedback is a tough conversation, to begin with, both for the giver and the receiver and be respectful of the employee and their time.

Describe the behavior that needs to be changed

When sharing feedback with an employee, it’s important to describe the behavior you want the person to change. Employees cannot be expected to change their behavior if they don’t have any clear reason for doing so.

Also read: 10 Best Employee Feedback Tools To Track Performance

Don’t intrude on someone’s feedback

It can be very tempting to step in when one of your managers is offering feedback to their direct reports. Maybe you think that they are not sharing feedback in the correct way. Or you think they are not addressing the real issue at hand. However, if you interrupt their feedback session in the middle, not only are you undermining them and their authority as a manager, you are showing the employee is alright for them to do the same, should they go on to become a manager later on.

The correct thing to do is talk to the manager later on, in private. Seek understanding as to why they shared feedback the way they did. Or even correct the issues you perceived. But do not do in front of their direct reports.

Be open to receiving feedback yourself

The hardest thing for a leader to do is listen to feedback about themselves. Feedback can cause us to be on the defensive, which is only a natural reaction to criticism.

But that is why, it is all the more important for leaders to listen to feedback, be it good or bad. Organizations should not exist in vacuums and neither should leaders. It is important to be aware of issues so that you can fix them and prevent them from happening in the future. Become comfortable with the act of listening to feedback, and more importantly, learn to act on the feedback you receive. It is one of the best things you can do as a leader.

Engagedly is an employee feedback software that makes the process of sharing feedback so much more easier. To learn more, request a live demo from our experts!

Gabby Davis

Gabby Davis is the Lead Trainer for the US Division of the Customer Experience Team. She develops and implements processes and collaterals related to the client onboarding experience and guides clients across all tiers through the initial implementation of Engagedly as well as Mentoring Complete. She is passionate about delivering stellar client experiences and ensuring high adoption rates of the Engagedly product through engaging and impactful training and onboarding.

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