Feedback is a scary word for a lot of people. Especially for new managers, who are expected, perhaps for the first time in their careers, to provide feedback to the people they supervise.
But why is this word so scary? Feedback should be a celebrated word. It’s the basic building block of coaching, and everyone loves a coach. Yet people still fear feedback. There are many reasons for this, but the most common one we hear is that managers worry about coming across as too harsh when providing feedback. They don’t want to damage the relationships they’ve built with their employees. What they don’t realize, however, is that failure to provide feedback is an even more direct and certain route to damaging those relationships.
An essential part of a manager’s job is to help employees grow and develop. But that’s not possible if you avoid giving feedback. Both positive and negative.
Employees want to improve their performance. They know very well how important this is. But to do better, they must receive feedback, and for that feedback to be valuable, it must be candid, caring and consistent.
Candid – Feedback has to be direct and honest. You have to challenge your employees to do better. They need to know both where you see them performing well and where you’d like to see improvement. It’s a manager’s job to correct inappropriate behavior and reinforce desirable behavior.
Caring – Feedback has to take into account that the employee is a person. If your employees perceive that you view them simply as a means to an end, they will see right through you and discount whatever feedback you provide them. But, if you’re giving feedback with the clear intention of helping them grow professionally and personally, employees will take you seriously and work with you to give the company their best.
Consistent – Feedback has to be ongoing and immediate. Waiting to give feedback once a year is ineffective, outdated and virtually useless. Employees need to know how they’re doing now, not in 11 months. By offering immediate and timely feedback, you can provide your employees with better guidelines for improvement. They can grow and develop throughout the year, not just in the fourth quarter.
Giving feedback is a critical part of your role as a manager and leader. Don’t fear it. Embrace it.