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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

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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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