Providing feedback as a leader is critical to direct your team towards success. If you do it correctly, you educate and motivate your team members all at the same time. Get it wrong, and you send them into a downward spiral towards poor performance and possibly even their departure. Here are 4 key areas to focus on when providing feedback effectively.
1) Focus on the behavior, not the person. Feedback is not ‘personal’. We should not be attacking the person, rather describe the behavior that you have documented or observed, and then share your observations with the team member. The key here is to clearly coach the behavior and keep the self-esteem as high as possible while changing the behavior.
2) Eliminate words like always, all the time, and never. When you use wording that says that something always happens or never happens, the team member will automatically dispute, because the statement is not accurate. When you are equipped with specifics such as dates and times, coaching is more factual and specific, thus more effective.
3) Provide feedback as close to the behavior as possible. If you wait too long, the details become less clear, and it is much easier to get into a debate about what actually took place. The only time I would suggest allowing some time to pass is when your emotions may be an issue, and you need time to cool off.
4) Ask for a summary when completed. At the end of your discussion, ask the team member to provide a summary. This will ensure that he/she understood the point of the discussion, and there are also benefits to having the team member actually say in their own words what took place and what the corrective action is that was agreed upon.
So take every opportunity to provide coaching and feedback, and you will see your team become more motivated and self-directed, which makes your job as a leader more fun and rewarding.