One of the areas widely discussed in today’s business world is how to deliver feedback, that is accepted by the employee and motivating for further personal and professional development.
In a study published on the HBR website in late 2017 more than 69% of the people interviewed on this topic has reported that despite the trainings and literature on the topic they still don’t feel comfortable giving feedback to an employee or colleague.
The questions that disturbing people were:
How to formulate feedback?
What is the suitable time?
How to ensure full understanding on the feedback shared?
How to ensure full acceptance of the information shared?
Coming with these questions, people interviewed on this topic were searching for the answer how to not demotivate employees and colleagues, when delivering the feedback.
The short answer here is: YOU CAN’T.
No matter how you try people will always feel uncomfortable when receiving constructive or negative feedback. It is part of the human nature to reject what makes you feel uncomfortable.
But still after all, there is a way to prepare for this conversation and make it a little bit more acceptable. Following the next steps can make you feel more confident during the process of giving feedback.
- Be specific
Want the feedback to succeed in it’s mission – make it as clear and as specific as you can. It must be based on real examples that are not contributing with the behavior and performance desired. Having a list of examples does means to focus on situations with behavior but on results caused from the behavior. Prepare your list of examples and then arrange them from the most impactful to the less impactful.
- Focus on business reasons
Think of what can harm the person in front of you. Remember that going personal is the worst strategy. Your way out of a dead end is to focus on a business subject. Giving information on situations, tasks and projects and how the level of completion has affected other processes or activities in the work schedule is the winning way. When focusing on that and excluding personal traits talks you make space for the person to understand from it’s point of view how a certain behavior has impacted other areas from the work process.
- Documentation on discussion
Come to the meeting with a prepared documentation on what and how business processes been affected. Structure information from the strongest example to the weakest one. Prior to the meeting analyze what must be the focus of the meeting, based on what type of information you have collected. Think before you include any example in the list, is there enough information that can support the discussion on the topic or not. If you can’t find enough information better skip the certain example from the conversation list. And don’t forget to take your documentation with you on the meeting.
- Timely feedback
Focus on what is common for the moment. Prepare and give feedback as close as you can to the moment when something happened. Letting feedback for a late period such as 3 to 6-8 months after the common situation makes it less impactful and can transform it from constructive to destructive and not motivating and accepted from the receiver. Yes, you can’t give always feedback after something has happened, but you can try to schedule it as close as you can to the moment when the causing effect for this feedback has happened.
- Consider employee mentality
One of the enablers of the accepted feedback is the receiver mentality. You have to know the person mentality if you want to have flexible and adaptive feedback, accustomed to their level of mentality. This is often found in the theory of the emotional intelligence, but simply said: If you know your receiver’s attitude, threshold of sensitivity and way to demonstrate reaction on rejection. Knowing more on the internal world of the feedback receiver can make you more comfortable on the process how to adapt your style of communication and take as most as you can from the process of delivering feedback.
6. Check level of understanding
The most undervalued step of the feedback session is actually the one that can turn the information against you. You can execute all the previous steps perfectly, but if you don’t ensure the same level of understanding between you and the receiver of the feedback then you are not doing anything. If you and the receiver do not understand the information, shared on the feedback meeting the same way, then you will have difficulties in the steps of the improvement process after that. When coming to the end of the feedback meeting check the level of understanding by briefly summarizing what has been talked about and to what consideration you came with the receiver of the feedback. Write them down to have a real clue. If you need to go back through a point or two from the conversation then make it at the meeting, but if you need to go through the whole meeting plan, the better schedule another meeting. That will give you time to do some improvements in your communication style and adapt it better to the person.
There is nothing more personal than the honest feedback. You never know how the person will react on information shared, but If you come unprepared you will make the situation even worse. When preparing for a feedback session doing your homework won’t harm the process, but can only help you react more adequately even on situations emotions and behavior that you have not expected to see. And remember that even the hardest feedback session can teach you more on people behavior and emotions than the best books or articles on the topic.