Feedback is a crucial component of any successful team, but its impact easily has the potential to be either positive or negative. When done wrong, feedback can be confusing, demotivating or even lead to workplace hostility and conflict.

While difficult conversations are essential to leadership, managers often put off providing feedback until the annual performance review. The result is employees operating in a vacuum, where expectations aren’t clear and crucial opportunities for professional growth are missed.

Fortunately, like any other type of skill, giving clear feedback is a competency that can develop with proper coaching, professional support and regular practice. Here are some of the essential ways we advise our professionals to tackle the challenge of providing effective feedback.

How to Give Clear Feedback in the Workplace

1.     Be clear about your desired outcome

If the goal of providing the feedback is that each person leaves the conversation knowing what they’re working toward, then understanding what you want to achieve before you initiate the feedback conversation is essential. That also includes recognizing what has gone well. Regularly acknowledging your team members’ efforts and successes is just as important as pointing out the mistakes.

2.    Choose the time and place

Psychological safety is paramount to effective feedback. Creating a safe environment means knowing how to deliver negative feedback (it should always be done privately)! A good leader approaches a negative feedback conversation as an opportunity for an open dialogue in which team members with a shared goal can brainstorm solutions together. Feedback also needs to be on-going and time-sensitive – don’t wait for the once-a-year performance review. The best feedback comes from someone who regularly lets you know what the expectations are, what you’re doing right and where you can improve.

3.     Focus on patterns

Sometimes feedback tends to be focused on specific events, but what is actually more helpful is feedback on patterns of behaviour that uses events as examples. Looking at patterns can allow an employee to see how they may be missing the mark in aligning with company priorities, culture, or strategy. It naturally will enable them to be less focused on debating specific details of an event and see the bigger picture.

4.     Establish the right mindset

You’ll accomplish more with your feedback when you ask questions that empower your team members to explore and consider solutions. The right mindset starts from a place of curiosity, acknowledging that you do not have all the answers, and being open to hearing feedback yourself. Avoid making assumptions or interpretations about why a specific behaviour is occurring – at the end of the day, you’re not a mind-reader, and your interpretation may not be accurate or helpful in addressing the actual problem.

5.     Get an outside perspective

Providing feedback is a skill, and like any other skill, it needs to be practiced. Getting an outside perspective through professional coaching is an investment in your team that will help your company reap the benefits of leaders who give great, clear feedback.

Cenera has decades of experience coaching leaders at all levels to learn how to provide the kind of feedback that builds high-performing teams. If you’re ready to develop your skills, contact us to learn more about our Professional Coaching program.

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