As a new manager, you might want to avoid giving constructive feedback right away. But that’s not the right approach. Here’s what you should do instead.
If you’ve been promoted recently, you’re probably determined to do things differently than other managers. You want to remember your roots as a worker bee forced to please the boss. You don’t want to micromanage or discourage people. So you may avoid giving constructive feedback until you have a few months under your belt as a manager.
Here’s what you need to do instead:
1. Assure people you’ll be giving frequent feedback
People want more feedback than they’re getting. Everyone, especially young and hard-to-retain superstars, constantly say in employee engagement surveys such as Gallup that they’re discouraged because they’re not getting enough feedback.
And it’s not just that they aren’t getting enough positive pats on the back. Sixty percent say they don’t get enough critical feedback that can help them improve. (Click here to tweet this stat.) Tell them you’ll be giving feedback weekly (or more often) and deliver on that promise.
2. Invite their feedback to you in every feedback conversation
The feedback culture you want to create is an exchange. You coach them and they make suggestions about what you can do to help them reach their goals faster.
3. Envision success for everyone to focus your feedback
Spend a few hours imagining the team as wildly successful. Record on paper your images of what each individual and the group as a whole will be doing and saying in the future — six to nine months ahead on your calendar.
Imagine recognition by customers and celebration by company leaders. What capabilities will each person need to develop to achieve the vision? Use these notes when picking out the most important and doable feedback topics for each person.
4. Invest plenty of time to clarify and re-clarify goals
You’ll increase their buy-in for feedback if you’re all on the same page about expected outcomes. And you’ll decrease the chances they’ll be confused or discouraged later. The bosses people hate are the ones who can’t explain what they want, but are quick to criticize. You’re a boss who explains what you want — not what you don’t.
5. Give lots of positive feedback, but make sure it’s specific and accurate
You want to encourage people, but you don’t want to come across as a parent figure who praises everything. It won’t be good for either you or them if they become dependent on you for their self-worth fixes.
On the other hand, positive feedback that resonates with what they know to be a strength or a hard-earned accomplishment builds credibility with your employees. If they feel that you “get them,” they’re more likely to believe you when you point out improvement needs.
6. Make feedback so helpful and frequent that it becomes a no-big-deal experience
Although your first feedback discussions with people may need to be scheduled half-hour meetings, they’ll get used to unthreatening hallway chats where you suggest a new approach they can use with a customer, how to expedite a meeting or fast ways they can acquire technical knowledge.
They will start to trust you. The trust gets big when they know they can count on you to bring up problems and never surprise them later with feedback you’ve withheld.
7. Act on the feedback they give you
As you ask each team member how you can better help them achieve their goals, how you can support them and how you can help make it a better workplace, acknowledge the value of their suggestions. And act on all feedback that makes sense as quickly as possible to demonstrate you believe in the power of feedback.
In giving more, rather than less, honest, timely feedback, you and the whole team will discover that feedback is a big plus and you as a leader will enjoy huge success.
Anna Carroll, MSSW, through EverydayFeedback.com, specializes in workplace trends and training. In her recent book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, she helps leaders at all levels overcome their obstacles to giving feedback.