Feedback is the Crux of Good Team Management


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Positive feedback is easy. A few kind words, a pat on the back, showing the big picture to the employee and a positive feedback is done. Whereas a negative feedback can take time, beating around the bush, first speaking of a few positives before slipping in the negatives. Discomfort on both sides. The employee squirming as he waits for the brickbats, the manager stalling till she has to spill the bad news. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not if a few basic norms of giving feedback are put to use. 

Generic norms of Feedback:

1.Never do it when you’re annoyed or upset. This is a cardinal rule of giving feedback. Anger makes us say things that we may not mean or we would not say in normal circumstances. It also makes the entire feedback session seem like a witch-hunt to the employee. If you’re in an unpleasant mood, differ the feedback session for another time. A delay wont hurt the business as much as losing the employees trust and confidence will.

2.Feedback should be unbiased. Don’t compare employees when giving feedback. Referring to the performance of another employee makes you look like you’re playing favorites. Every employee must feel uniquely important when you give feedback. Feedback is about that one person and references to others can dilute the bond and rapport this activity should have and can build.

3.Don’t get personal. Feedback is an assessment of an employee’s professional performance. Making remarks about a person’s character, disposition, lifestyle etc, that does not affect the business or individual’s performance is highly unprofessional and discriminatory. Keep your feedback restricted within the ambit of work and professional ethics.

Positive Feedback norms

1.     Don’t overdo it. It’s always easy to get vociferous when giving positive feedback. You can keep talking about it, especially if it’s a star performer of your team. Refrain from doing that. Too much of anything is not good, and so it is with praise too. You don’t want the person to assume illusions of being larger than their capabilities. This is detrimental to the person and the work he/she does. 

2.     Temper your praise with opportunities of improvement. Everyone has an Achilles heel, bring it up in the conversation. Let the employee know she’s good, but not infallible. This keeps the person grounded and happy at the same time. It also motivates the person to improve the chink in their armor.  

Negative Feedback norms

1.     Don’t use the sandwich approach when giving negative feedback. You don’t want the message to be lost between positive tones. People listen to what they want to hear. It’s very possible that your negative feedback between the positive feedbacks is completely lost to the employee, who goes away thinking they’ve actually done a good job.

2.     Highlight the flaws with opportunities on how to improve. It’s always said, don’t just come with a problem, bring along a couple of possible solutions. This makes for a good discussion and probable resolution. It gives the employee something to take away and work on.

3.     Set the stage before giving negative feedback. Create a safe-zone of trust and open communication before getting into the nitty-gritty. Come prepared with sufficient data. Guide the employee into the negative aspects while sharing this information. The employee’s self-realization on performance troughs will make the negative feedback a lot more palatable than just stating negatives directly.

4.     Know your team member before engaging them in a conversation. Different people respond to different stimuli. You should know the person well enough to get them into a comfort zone, so they’re more receptive and open to feedback.

 And the most important norm 

·      Listening. A feedback session is a perfect time to listen to the employee. They may have a lot to say. Some may even want to vent about certain things at the workplace or colleagues or even you. Listen to it all. It can offer clues to the person’s performance and mindset, giving you ways to correct the situation.

Eventually, it’s about improving the employee and building a team with trust, confidence and dependability. 
Remember, you’re only as good as the collective performance of your team.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Sunil Panikker
Sunil Panikker is a business consultant specializing in customer service, operations and business strategy. He has honed his expertise over 30 years of experience, working in senior management positions, with companies having global footprints, and responsibilities that have been cross-functional & multi-locational. His blog shares the experience and expertise assimilated from managing customer experience across multiple diverse industries.


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