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Managers, read these 8 tips on giving the right feedback

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This article is based on the free eBook
This article is written by Eric Garner, the author of the free eBook “Delegation and Empowerment”

Feedback is an essential part of management and one of the keys to improving performance. In today’s business world, it has become one of the most important functions of being a manager. But there is a right way and a wrong way to give it. If you follow the 8 rules below, you’ll be able to give feedback that works every time.


1. Give feedback for the right reasons

There’s only one reason for giving someone feedback and that’s to help them learn, develop, and grow. If your motives are not to be helpful, then don’t give feedback.


2. Pick the right moment

You can give feedback at any time but there are some times when it works better than others. If you’ve observed someone doing a task and you think you could help them do part of it better, then the best time is soon after the task while memories are fresh. Pick a moment when people are receptive. Remember that sometimes people can be apprehensive about having their performance discussed, so choose your moment and your words carefully. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t pick a time when people are otherwise occupied or pre-occupied, or when they are emotional or stressed.


3. Don’t put them down

People often go wrong in giving feedback by appearing to criticise the person. This then causes a defensive reaction which makes further feedback impossible. The best way round this is to avoid putting people down by focusing on what they did. A good phrase that sums this up is: “Praise the worker, criticise the work”. Remember, most people appreciate suggestions about what they can do better. They rarely like direct attacks on themselves.


4. Focus on behaviour

When you focus on observable behaviour, people are always more receptive to feedback. You could, for example, say something like, “I noticed you jumped in with your pitch after just a couple of minutes. Have you thought about spending a little longer listening?” Or, use the second-person technique: “John used to do the same as you and he found it easier to ask at least 10 questions first”.


5. Balance your feedback

There is always a danger in giving unremittingly positive or unremittingly negative feedback. The first may lead to complacency on the part of the person; the second to gloom. Instead, balance your feedback with a mix of positive feedback (behaviour that you liked and want to see more of) and constructive feedback (behaviour that you want to see less of).


6. Own your feedback

Take responsibility for the views you give. Make it clear that they are only your views and the person may not necessarily agree with them. What you are offering are suggestions for helping people do better, not universal truths.


7. Relate feedback to goals and standards

By connecting your feedback to the goals and standards the team are trying to achieve, you’ll set your feedback into the context, not of what is right for you, but what is right for the organisation, eg “if you maintain eye contact a little longer, the customer will trust you more and be ready to buy”.


8. Feedback on good as well as poor performance

You don’t have to wait until someone is performing badly to give feedback. You can feed back when you see someone doing something you like and would like to see more of just as much as feeding back on things you didn’t like and think they should change. One common technique is the Feedback Sandwich, which alternates positive feedback with negative and then positive again, as in a sandwich.

Feedback is one of the best appraisal and coaching tools around. Use it with your own staff, your own team, and even your own boss. But use it wisely and use it skillfully.


Author Credit: Eric Garner is a highly experienced coach and trainer with a knack for bringing the best out of individuals and teams. Eric founded ManageTrainLearn in 1995 as a corporate training company in the UK specialising in the 20 skills that people need for professional and personal success today. Since 2002, as part of KSA Training Ltd, ManageTrainLearn has been a major player in the e-learning market. It has now taken its place as one of the best companies in the world for producing and delivering quality online management training products.


If you would like to learn more about the essentials of management, you can download Eric Garner’s free eBook “Delegation and Empowerment”.