Feedback, when done well and consistently, can be the key to successful supervision. It helps establish trust, build relationships and create a culture of continuous improvement toward excellence. Here are some ways a supervisor can bolster the efficacy of feedback:
Establish a Feedback Culture: Create an environment in which feedback is encouraged and valued. Your employees want to be professionally developed by their managers, and frequent feedback is a big part of delivering it. We should also emphasize that feedback is just another tool (just like a computer or a training class) that employees need to thrive in their current positions and rise to new ones. We can role model this by soliciting and receiving feedback from our employees professionally. When we don’t agree with what we hear, don’t react, seek to understand with open-ended questions.
Utilize Counseling: So many people fear corrective feedback and counseling because of the perception that they are inherently punitive. When we create a culture of feedback, people eventually realize that feedback holds more gifts than discipline, especially if employees have a say in the improvement plan. The more we commit to powering through difficult conversations, the stronger we become individually and institutionally. A problem avoided is a problem amplified. Through constructive feedback, a problem becomes an opportunity instead.
Use Impact Statements: When we focus on negative behaviors such as lateness, employees can feel shame and arbitrarily targeted; however, when we discuss the impacts of their tardiness (e.g., team members’ morale gets lowered, customers start forming long lines, etc.), it takes the personalizing out of the problem and provides the employee a reason to consider the consequences of their actions. The same thing is true for positive feedback. When we merely thank people for staying late, it can fall flat; however, if we explain the impacts of their doing so (e.g., a co-worker got to leave to care for a sick parent), we bolster the integrity of the comment. This is bound to be (more) appreciated by the recipient of the praise.
A feedback culture can positively impact any organization to deliver excellence. A company that fosters the ability to speak of areas of performance frankly and without fear will reap the benefits of a healthy, happy workplace filled with healthy, happy workers. As a leader, how do you promote and model feedback?
Guest Blog by John Mancuso
Learn more about John’s next supervisor skills course, Rockin’ Your Supervisory Role.