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8 Ways Of Giving Constructive Feedback That Make An Impact

8 Ways Of Giving Constructive Feedback That Make An Impact
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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.

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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 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

Reference

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