If you want to be a true leader you have to be able to provide feedback. And not just any feedback, but effective feedback. In my experience, this is the greatest fear of most new managers. How do you provide constructive feedback without hurting your employee’s feelings?
Kim Scott has laid out a simple and effective strategy for giving feedback in her book Radical Candor. It’s all about caring personally and challenging directly.
First up, care personally. If you don’t care about your employees personally then you have no business being a manager. No matter what industry your company is in, as a manager, you’re really just in the people business. You cannot be a successful, long-term leader if you don’t actually care about people. You hold the keys to their happiness at work. You have to take the time to build relationships with your employees (what we call a PBR). If you treat them like just another cog in the machine, they will know and they will become disengaged, perhaps even destructive. Great managers get to know their employees’ goals, both personal and professional, and help them achieve those milestones as best they can. True leaders take the time to connect with people on a personal level and show that they have their best interest at heart.
Once you’ve established those relationships, you can more effectively challenge your employees directly. This is where the Candor comes in. Every employee wants to do a good job, they want to improve and grow as an employee and as an individual. You can help them do that, but only if you are honest about their performance. They need to hear the truth, no sugar coating. If you have taken the time to show that you care about them personally then they will be able to receive your direct feedback in a productive way. They will trust that your feedback is given only because you truly believe it will help them.
It’s a simple concept and a great framework for feedback, but you have to implement both sides. Just caring personally won’t help your employees be the best they can be. And just challenging directly won’t help them enjoy their journey. Start using both together and you’ll build an incredibly engaged and productive team.
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