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8 Ways Of Giving Constructive Feedback That Make An Impact

8 Ways Of Giving Constructive Feedback That Make An Impact

Everyone wants feedback at some point. It may be part of a performance assessment or can be done at an informal level as things happen. It can be a useful tool in relationships too. The problem arises when feedback is not given properly and all sorts of misunderstandings arise. But the majority (96 percent) in one survey think that even negative or redirecting feedback is helpful in getting better results. The same study revealed that 75 percent want positive feedback with helpful suggestions on improving. The main purpose is to encourage, motivate and help your employee to build skills. Feedback is a skill we all need whether we are parents, friends, partners or managers. Here are eight ways to give constructive feedback so that everybody feels happy.

1. Always ask when is a good time

The person getting the feedback also needs time to prepare and reflect on how wells/he has done. That is why delivering feedback without any warning can have negative fallout which may make it even more difficult if there are delicate issues involved. A simple question, such as ‘When would you be ready for feedback on project X?’ can allow for some mental preparation.

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2. Listen first

When you start the conversation, ask the employee for his or views on how the latest project is going. Ask about the progress and the obstacles. This feedback style has one enormous advantage. You are giving the employee first serve in the game. It also makes the whole session much less confrontational. You will be glad to know that many of the points you have jotted down are actually being mentioned. It also gives you, the manager, a chance to see some aspects which you may well have missed when preparing the session.

3. Try to be encouraging

Effective feedback will impact positively on the person’s performance and morale. All too often, both managers and employees dread giving and getting feedback and the whole process can become fraught. Look at the feedback matrix here to get some ideas. The manager/team leader thanks the employee and mentions some of the great stuff he is doing. This is really essential because it shows that his work is appreciated. This can help to drive motivation.

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4. Be specific when criticizing

At some point, you have to tell the employee where s/he has failed to meet the objectives or meet a deadline. There may be some errors in the work and also some careless oversights. The important things when giving the negative feedback are:

  • Point out clearly what is wrong. There may be negative customer feedback or errors in accounting. You need to have these at hand so that they can be shown to the employee.
  • Pause after each point so that the employee can come back with an explanation, justification, excuse, or an admittance that standards were not met.
  • Couch criticism of attitudes to work/meetings as diplomatically as possible. Rather than bluntly saying that they were not participating at all in the meeting, it may be better to say: ‘I noticed that you were using passive body language’.

5. Explain the effects of poor performance

There may be implications for customer satisfaction and services. Not following the correct procedures or overspending on costs or simply not paying enough attention to detail can all have a knock on effect on performance in the whole section. You have to make this very clear.

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6. Moving forward and improving

After the criticism, the emphasis will be very much on moving forward and setting things right.  A great way is to ask: ‘What can I do to help you get back on track with meeting deadlines?’  Then discuss what mini goals can be set so that performance improves. Be as specific as you can here. Set a date or period for a progress report so that you can both see how performance is getting better. Discuss ways together of how progress can be charted. This may be in the form of reports, graphs, data on customer satisfaction, or auditing reports.

7. Tie in the feedback with long term objectives

One great way to use feedback is to look at all the positives and the negatives and tie these in with the employee’s long term career goals. This should be a regular feature of all feedback and discussions. Tell them that once they have managed to fix X, they will be in a much better position to apply for a better position/promotion in the company. It is no accident that enlightened managers are thinking of ‘feedforward’ coaching rather than the old fashioned feedback.

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8. Always prefer face-to-face feedback, rather than email

In to-day’s digital and virtual workplace, it may be actually impossible to give face to face feedback. You may have to resort to an email. This is a minefield. In many cases, of course, written reports of performance assessments do get written but they are the result of a real human interaction and they are often an agreed version. But initial feedback by email is a different story. When you write feedback, you have to imagine the person’s reaction as s/he reads it. Trying to empathize will be a great help.

This is always why it is a good idea to write it twice. After the first draft, leave it for a day and then read it again with the intention of rewriting it. Harsh words can be like daggers and they hurt. Now you can see why managers and everybody else hates giving and getting feedback. This is one of the most sensitive areas in the workplace but if you follow the above tips, you should find it gets easier with time and experience.

Featured photo credit: Manager for a Day/FTTUB via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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