Have you ever given feedback to someone and questioned why you needed to re-state what you thought should have been obvious in the first place? The reality is our employees are all individuals working as part of our larger team. What may seem obvious to us is not always clear to others.
As a manager, I am constantly reminding myself that just as I have opinions and strong beliefs in the correct approach, so do my employees. The trick is learning how to react and provide feedback that not only redirects the employee, but teaches them a new way of approaching the work in the future. Below are four tricks of the trade that I have learned from my own managers, who have no doubt had to apply the same techniques with me.
1) Take the time to digest the matter at hand: With modern day technology, it is easy to see an email come in and respond immediately. This means we are reading the information quickly resulting in what is often times results in a hurried and sometimes unhelpful response. Take the time to read and understand the email or listen and understand what the employee is saying. Don’t hesitate to take an afternoon or even an evening to develop a response if it is not an emergency.
2) Let the employee walk you through their original reasoning: Whether or not you have already decided there is a need for change, listening to how and why an employee made their decision will give you insight into how they approach their work. In doing so, you learn about their personality and work-style which will help you customize your feedback to work specifically for them.
3) It is not a better approach; it is a new approach: No one likes to be told they are wrong. Talk about the new approach and encourage the employee to be part of the design process for the change. Remember to include your own steps in the new process thereby showing you, as their manager, are invested in their success as an employee.
4) Follow-through: I have often thought “follow-through” is one of the most frequently used phrases in human resources. The truth is, without it, no amount of feedback, or re-direction will be truly effective. If there is no follow-through, you will likely find yourself having the same conversation over and over.
If this article teaches you one thing, I hope it is that feedback, when given properly, takes time. Feedback is not necessarily given in one brief conversation. While the occasional on-the-spot conversation is necessary at times, we need to remember that we are working on teaching a behavior rather than correcting a simple action. As a manager, we want our employees to be successful. We want them to grow. Let’s remember that we can also grow throughout the process when we take the time slow down, consider both sides, and talk with our employees rather than talk to them.