Top 3 ways for managers to give their staff great feedback

Encouraging a growth mindset within your organisation

Giving feedback is hard. At home. At work, In relationships. In a professional setting. We all worry about delivering any sort of feedback, good or bad nd most of us will go to great lengths to avoid it. We fear being judged harshly, coming across as the bad guy and often don’t know from which angle to approach from. So why are some of us good at it in certain areas of our lives, but when in a work setting, we seem to make it more difficult than it needs to be? The thing is, feedback is essential. Essential for growth, for progression and to establish a true and meaningful connection with our co-workers. It is the single tool that has the greatest impact on motivation, performance and individual contribution. 

Feedback is not only essential, it is actually desired. Research shows that 4 out of 10 employees actively disengage from their jobs if they get little or no feedback. Managers and team leaders need to view feedback as a gift, as most employees genuinely want to progress, understand how they are doing, where they can improve and receive recognition when things are going well. In fact, giving positive feedback can hugely impact motivation and re-energise team members, so it’s important not to underestimate its importance. 

For those of you who think they already tick the feedback box, we’d like to encourage you to keep reading, just in case. You see, at Let’s Talk Talent, we have seen a clear disconnect between managers and employees: research shows that most employees (65% in fact) would like to receive more feedback, whilst most managers (58%) said they give enough feedback. So, as a team leader, how can you make it easier to generate and encourage a growth mindset within your business by using the kind of regular feedback that creates motivation and gets employees to strive for more? We’ve got a few top tips for you. 

1. Why is developmental feedback important?

Before we dive into the ‘how’, we thought we’d go through the ‘why’. Most businesses value growth and innovation as part of their internal cultures. After all, a growth mindset is essential in order for business innovation as well as personal development to take place. But a growth mindset doesn’t just happen magically. It needs to be cultivated daily through consistent developmental feedback. 

Performance, whether it’s about an individual or a team, isn’t static. In order to progress, people need to be stretched, challenged, and motivated. So when it comes to growth, we adhere to the 70:30 ratio, where 70% of an employee’s role should be comfortable (so as not to feel overwhelming), and the remaining 30% should be more challenging (so as not to be boring). But the latter part of the job requires support in order for staff to evolve and move in the right direction whilst feeling comfortable making mistakes and trying out new things. This support can take many forms, from additional training to mentoring or coaching, but your main career development tool should always remain constant: regular, on the job developmental feedback. 

2. How to deliver feedback efficiently using the EDGE framework

Now that we’ve convinced you that it’s time for all of us to up our feedback game a bit, we won’t just leave you high and dry to figure out how to make it part of your management arsenal. And the best advice we could start with is a simple one: don’t wait. The most effective feedback is given ‘in the moment’, in a timely fashion. Don’t wait for your scheduled routine one-to-one meetings or worse, your staff’s annual performance review, to circle back on a task or project and discuss it. If creating a culture of trust and collaboration is at the top of your cultural agenda, make sure that giving praise or helping someone navigate a tricky situation is a key part of the way you lead your people and your team.  

But timing isn’t the only factor to consider in the equation. The way feedback is delivered is also crucial. That’s why we recommend following the EDGE framework for a sure-fire way to address all important aspects, whether positive or slightly less so, of a particular situation: 

  • Explain: Make sure you go through the situation in a factual way and summarise what happened, whether good or bad.
  • Describe: Go through the impact this had on you, the team or the organisation. 
  • Give: the person the mic. Feedback meetings should be open dialogues and both participants should have the opportunity to talk. Encouraging them to interact and discuss the situation will also give you an opportunity to check they have a good understanding of your intended message.  
  • End positively: agree next steps and, more importantly,  follow up so you hold their feet to the fire. 

3. It’s all about how you set it up

Before going in to give feedback to your team members, there are a few things you can do to start on the right foot. Thinking about how you set up your conversation could make a huge difference in the way feedback is received, so it’s worth spending a few moments to create a safe space where both people feel comfortable. 

We normally would recommend a slightly less formal setting and comfortable surroundings, but in a virtual world, this may be difficult. If you choose to chat over a computer screen, bear in mind there are several benefits, such as less distractions and greater privacy as your employee will be in a familiar, non-threatening setting. However, there are also drawbacks to consider, such as fewer opportunities to pick up on non verbal cues or body language. Make sure you select the right environment in order to foster psychological safety for both of you by considering each individual, their preferences and communication styles. 

It’s also important to consider timing. Some people are ‘right now’ kind of people and need to talk to think. Others may need to think to talk. Those will require a bit of processing time before and after your feedback session, so ensure you make it possible for them to do so. Also, make sure you are in a good place to actively listen to that person’s thoughts. Shut out all distractions, turn off emails and messages and, if needed, take 5 minutes before your meeting to focus on the upcoming discussion and move on from whatever you were doing previously. Giving feedback is a two-way street, so use your best emotional /social intelligence, empathy and listening skills. 

Conclusion: how to help managers give better feedback

Giving feedback can be hard. But feedback isn’t just about the negative stuff. It includes praising your team when they come through and celebrating the small successes.

Whether you’ve got a slightly more difficult message to deliver or are just dolling out ‘well dones’ all-around, feedback is the most important tool you have to improve performance and directly affect your people’s contribution towards organisational goals. Without feedback, there is no growth, so go ahead, develop your feedback muscles and make it part of your daily leadership routine by using the framework provided.

Doing it little and often will have a positive impact on your team’s engagement and motivation levels as well, so make it part of your cultural DNA. And don’t forget to ask for feedback on your performance as well. After all, your own career progression is just as important.

If you’d like a bit more training on making development feedback a key tool in your management arsenal, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can recommend a few gems, starting with the book that brought us the EDGE framework, i.e.: The Feedback Book: 50 Ways to Motivate and Improve the Performance of Your People, by Dawn Sillet.

We also run an effective feedback webinar on how to approach giving feedback, which you can buy for your managers.

And for those who prefer to learn in more regular interventions in order to better absorb the content, have a look at our Communications Bootcamp.

Equip your managers to have more effective conversations
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