Employee feedback session is a major tool for keeping your team happy, engaged and updated on their performance in their respective roles. Employees are challenged to their personal best when they are given timely and constructive feedback. They accept these feedback in good faith and work towards improving the gaps when they are sure of the objectivity of the exercise.

Policies on performance management must clearly state guidelines on how to conduct feedback sessions and outline some modalities and timelines on how and when to carry them out. It must state the various interventions for the skills gaps which may be identified. There should be a well-defined means on employees who will be identified as non-performers – they must be carried on so they don’t affect others.

Criticism is rarely easy for anyone to hear, but the manner in which it’s provided can make a huge difference in how feedback is received and how useful it can be in helping the recipient grow.

The way most organizations handle feedback is terrible. Bosses save everything up till the dreaded performance review rolls around. Piling up a year’s worth of feedback in one day is grueling and stressful for everyone involved. Instead of being an opportunity for growth, it’s treated as something awful to get through.

I believe there is a problem—not only with the whole performance review process but with how we communicate feedback. We have institutionalized the art of letting people know how they’re doing, often with a process that does more harm than good. But we dutifully follow the system that’s handed to us, even though it’s unsettling for everyone involved.

Feedback can be invaluable when it’s offered in the right way with the right intentions. Knowing the how and when is a skill, and like any other skill it takes practice to get it right. Let’s consider the below tips;

Make sure there is a reason. For feedback to be effective, it must have a purpose. You may be analyzing a recent problem to prevent it from recurring, or the employee’s role maybe involved in an area that’s been targeted for expansion. Effective feedback requires credibility, and that credibility is absent if only context is “its review time and I have to list something under ‘Areas for Improvement.’”

Right timing. Timing is important in employee feedback sessions. When an event triggers a need for feedback, provide it as quickly as possible (but not in the heat of the moment). Timely feedback allows you to address issues more effectively, and it doesn’t leave employees feeling blindsided or losing track of events.

It has to be done routinely and regularly. Examining events and looking for highs and lows, and especially for places where changes would be beneficial, should be a regular part of your leadership, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. When feedback becomes part of the performance management process, it doesn’t make recipients feel singled out or targeted for victimization or criticism.

Keep it simple and specific. To be effective, feedback must be clear. Stay on track and stick to the issue at hand. Avoid phrases like “you never” or “you always”— discuss the impact of specific behavior without blame or personal criticism or attacking the person.

Make it interactive. Feedback works best when it’s treated not as a one-way street but an interactive session for problem solving. Ask for input and ideas to help clarify issues you may not understand – it’s about progress and results not punishment.

Use “I” statements. The best feedback comes from your personal perspective. You can avoid labeling, blaming and accusing by making sure your sentences start with “I”: I thought, I sense,, and by expressing yourself with concern and care,

Know when to go private. It’s a wise principle that’s easy to forget: give recognition in public and criticism in private. Create a safe environment, away from hearing ears, and speak in a way that no one can overhear or disrupt the conversation. Privacy is important.

Stay focused. A good feedback discussion is about one issue, not piling on every large and small grievance at once. If you expand the scope of the feedback to include objectives and criticisms, you risk having an employee who feels attacked and demoralized—and who wouldn’t? Stick to the specific behavior that the employee needs to change.

For every negative, give two positives. A good rule to follow is to start off with something positive. This helps put the person in the right frame of mind to receive information. It’s also good to end the discussion with something positive so they don’t leave discouraged and dispirited.

Follow up for progress. The whole purpose of feedback is for improvement. Feedback needs to be carried out in a constant loop in which everyone thinks about what they’ve done and what they could do better, as they work to grow and develop—and that requires measuring accomplishments. Discuss what is and isn’t working and work together on anything that needs to be amended.

If feedback is positive and constructive, positive outcomes will be the result; if it is grounded in negativity, a lack of engagement and failure will follow. Feedback is effective when it’s a two-way street. You need to know how to give it effectively and receive it constructively.

The purpose of constructive feedback is to maximize opportunities for growth and advancement. Line managers and team leads may be engaged in some activities that may look like a feedback session. The question is – will that ensure career growth and create new opportunities? If this is not addressed, employees will start looking out for better career development options. Designing a continuous improvement system is the surest means of keeping the feedback alive and productive.

The process in ensuring constructive feedback must be effective, constructive, and geared toward employees’ overall growth and development. Any other results apart from this is a total deviation from the main objective of undertaken feedback sessions.

Source: BrightAmpaduOkyere/ LollyDaskal

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