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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 February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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