Feedback Is A Gift: Seek and Provide It
Published in ProjectManagement.com in Hot Topics for Communication by Hernani Alves
I’m a firm believer that feedback is a gift. When I work with supervisors, it’s usually because they’ve dug themselves into a hole. They keep digging and digging as an attempt to get help.
Instead, they need to put down the shovel and grab the ladder. That ladder is S.I.P. feedback. It’s the best place to start when you have nowhere else to go and find yourself in a critical spot. S.I.P. is the ultimate offering and one that, when utilized properly, will propel your team to victory.
But is there really a secret to doing this effectively? Oh yes. In my experience, the most successful leaders do these three things when giving feedback.
First and foremost, they seek their own feedback. As a supervisor, you are responsible for your team’s success, which is why you need to start with improving your skills before moving on to theirs. By asking for an assessment of your performance, you’ll be able to communicate with your employees more effectively and, most importantly, demonstrate that accountability is a two-way street.
You’ll need to go into this knowing that the results will likely be tough to hear. Early in my career, I worked my way up to becoming one of the top sales managers in my company, but as a leader, I was struggling. My direct manager, Matt, gave it to me straight: “You’re outstanding and one of the best salespeople we have.”, he said. “However, no one wants to work with you.” Ouch. As difficult as it was for me to hear, that piece of feedback was one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received in my career. It pushed me to take action and to seek a better way to manage.
When you ask your employees for feedback, don’t argue, don’t defend. Listen, and use what they’re saying as a means to improve. What they’re giving you is a gift that you can use to move yourself and your team forward. You’ll be shocked to hear after this; your team will be asking for their feedback as well.
Increase Positive Feedback
Employees need to hear what they’re doing well. Not all feedback can be positive, but it’s vital to highlight the wins over the losses. It can be easy to focus on shortcomings when giving feedback, but pessimism can be detrimental in the workplace. That doesn’t mean you can’t suggest areas to improve, but who aspires for greatness when it feels fruitless anyway? There’s a balance. Luckily, a negative work atmosphere can be turned around, and the easiest way to do that is with positivity.
According to the Harvard Business Review “A large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology demonstrates that… a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.”. How does this translate to effective feedback? Simple: catch people doing things right. Celebrate those wins and magnify the positives. Let your individual employees know how much you value their contribution. This not only inspires them to build on their strengths, but it allows them to feel autonomy and ownership in the company. They’ll want to see the team as a whole prosper, and your turnover will go down.
Provide Healthy Feedback
Giving a positive report is vital – it sets you up to provide healthy feedback. No one wants to hear feedback for feedback’s sake. This process should be intentional with the ultimate goal of seeing improvement. Will it be easy for you or the employee? No way, but it will be worth it.
Consider when you join a gym. Is your trainer your favorite person when they’re pushing you to run one more mile or do one more push up? Probably not. However, they know that the desired result of your fitness journey is not only about transforming your body. It’s about living life to its fullest. Being able to run with your kids, enjoying your clothes, feeling stronger and doing what you want to do.
As a leader, we are tasked to train our employees in a similar way. To hold them accountable, and provide motivation especially when it’s tough so that they can succeed. This is what I consider healthy feedback. It’s intentional and asks both parties to push through difficulties as a means for growth.
Can you utilize feedback without pushing away your team? Absolutely! Remember that you’re giving them a gift. It may not be a gift that they particularly want, but it’s for the greater good. If you focus on the positive and are deliberate with your words, you won’t be crushing their soul with critique; you’ll be providing them with feedback to unleash their fullest potential. Ready, set, go!
About the Author:
Hernani Alves is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, and executive consultant with over twenty years of business experience as a Sales Executive for a $3 Billion Company. He’s the founder of Balanced IQ, a company that helps leaders build world-class teams focused on getting sustainable results in varying economic climates.
In his book, Balanced Accountability: Three Leadership Secrets to Win Hearts and Maximize Performance, Alves delivers a newfound clarity on the case for accountability and the steps organizations, and individuals need to take to unleash their potential. He reveals the frame work needed to improve accountability in the workplace to win hearts and maximize performance.