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10 Tips for Giving Feedback That Will Build a Team You Love to Work With

10 Tips for Giving Feedback That Will Build a Team You Love to Work With
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You will find that you love working with your team when you commit to supporting and developing their work and their growth. The only way to do this? Give excellent feedback.

Here are 10 critical tips every manager must use to build a team that is a pleasure to work with:

1. Your feedback is your product.

If you are a master brewer, you put time, energy, and expertise into creating the best beer possible. That beer is your product, and you constantly look for ways to improve. When you are a manager, your product is your feedback. Put as much effort into producing and improving the feedback you give. As you improve your product delivery, your team will improve theirs, too.

2. Before giving feedback, set clear expectations.

Technically, it’s not feedback unless you gave your team clear expectations. It’s not fair or relevant to hold someone accountable for a specific objective or procedure when they didn’t know about it. You can’t assume they know. You must be clear and specific, and share the rationale of each objective to improve buy-in.

If you recognize that clear expectations are missing in your team, it’s not too late. Pull your team together, take responsibility (see Tip#9), and set clear expectations, in writing preferably.

3. Reinforce the foundation before you remodel.

Giving positive feedback reinforces the foundation of any working relationship. When I know that you value the work I do and that you trust and respect me, I can feel coached on my development, not attacked for my shortcomings.

It has been proven in multiple research studies that the most effective feedback is given in a ratio of at least seven positives to one corrective message. Every human has a genuine need for approval. Corrective feedback, no matter how well delivered or deserved, takes a significant toll on our sense of approval. Too much correction without reinforcing and people start feeling resentful. Then they may under-produce to regain a sense of control or because they don’t understand how to regain approval.

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Develop a habit of giving specific positive feedback as a habit. It’s doesn’t take much time to say, “Hey, I appreciate your work on the sales report.” If you write it on a sticky note, it has three times the impact, too!

4. Look for the flaw in the system first.

Before giving corrective feedback, investigate the system. This may take more of your time on the front end. However, it will save you from firing, re-hiring, and training new staff only to discover the same problem arising again. Is the problem in the personnel or in the system the personnel are using to reach the desired outcome? Investigate from multiple perspectives, not just your own.

5. Know the difference between performance and style.

Performance: Does the job get done effectively and efficiently? When giving feedback on performance, use specific measurable observations. Examples: the report was in two hours late; your sales increased by 10%; you have been involved in five safety incidents in the past six months. State clearly what you want to change or continue.

Style: How does the job get done? When giving feedback on style, explore the advantages and disadvantages of the methods used. Examples: you tend to be very social with the customers; you walk in the door right at 9 and leave right at 5; you tend to talk more in meetings than others. Help the person see how the style has benefits and costs, and support them as they consider how changing their style could create more benefits for them and the team.

6. To nip or not to nip…

When do you “nip things in the bud,” coming down with loud and clear correction? General rule: when there is a clear and present danger.

Think of it like driving in a car with someone you care about. Should you yell “Look out!” when he rolls through a stop sign, or when he’s going off the road? If you want to stay in the car, you save the yelling for the major danger.

If he’s frequently rolling through stop signs and it’s your job to help him become a better driver, then you can give some style feedback about the pattern you noticed.

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Otherwise, let the poor guy drive!

7. Choose the right time and place.

There are circumstances when feedback is best given in private and others when feedback is better shared in public. Some feedback is better received right after an event. But there are times when it better to wait a bit before giving feedback.

How do you know? One way is to ask. Talk to each person on your team, and ask them when and where they like to hear different kinds of feedback. Do what you can to honor their preferences. Also, let them know that they can always change their minds.

Pay close attention to your emotional state when giving feedback. High emotion states may not be productive times to give masterful feedback. Give yourself time to process some of the emotion before entering into a feedback-sharing conversation if possible. This may seem to contradict the previous Tip#6 about nipping, so let me explain. In a high emotion state, you can give a clear directive. Then, once you have processed, open up the conversation for more in-depth feedback.

8. Stop serving “Poop Sandwiches.”

A common strategy for giving feedback is often referred to as The Poop Sandwich (G-rated version). People are taught that if they have corrective feedback, they should first say something positive, then give the corrective, then follow-up with positive.

“You’re really great around the office, but your presentations are weak. You’re still doing a good job overall.”

Instead of this rather cowardly tactic, consider being bravely supportive.

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When something isn’t working well, address it specifically and ask for a commitment to change.

“Thank you for your time. In your presentation, I had a difficult time hearing you and there wasn’t enough supporting research to create a convincing case. You are a valuable member of our team, and I want to help you improve. Are you open to working on this?”

If the person won’t acknowledge the problem or isn’t willing to work on improving, then you just identified a bigger problem. If they are willing to change but you don’t have the time or resources to help, find someone who does.

9. Take full responsibility for your actions.

If you want your feedback to lead to improvements on your team, you need to role model how to take full responsibility.

Many managers will take partial responsibility. “I’ll take responsibility, but everyone else played a part in the failure. I still take some of the blame.”

That’s a Gourmet Poop Sandwich.

If you really want to love your team, be bold enough to take full responsibility. “I take 100% responsibility. The buck stops here. I didn’t provide what was needed, and we didn’t get the results we wanted. Let’s look at what happened and learn from it.”

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When the leader sincerely takes responsibility, it gives permission for others to do the same. It creates a culture of solution-finding instead of blame-finding.

10. Create a culture of feedback.

If feedback is only a one-way street, all the previous tips may still fail to create a team you love to work with. You must facilitate a way for your team to share productive feedback with each other. When a team talks behind each others’ backs, it’s a sign that they don’t feel supported in a culture of feedback sharing.

Most importantly, you must actively seek and receive feedback from your team. This may be the hardest part (which is why it’s so rare), but it is critical. While many people falsely believe that it’s best when their team fears them, this actually chokes off your team from sharing critical information with you.

Just saying, “My door is always open,” isn’t enough. Go out of your door, or invite each of them in. Ask, “So, what do you see that I’m not seeing? How can I do better?” And listen.

If you need help improving your skills in entering into feedback, find a good coach. It will be the best investment you can make in creating your dream team. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families. Why work with a team you don’t love?

What ‘s been the hardest part of giving feedback for you? Which of these tips will make the biggest change in how you give feedback in your team? Let me know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Dunechaser via photopin cc

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

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