A leader once told me that one of his team members came to him disappointed that he wasn’t being provided with as much feedback as he had expected. He expressed that not getting enough constructive feedback made him feel like he wasn’t getting better and growing within his role. Although some employees may do well with receiving feedback at regular intervals, some individuals may require more verbalization to know they’re advancing forward and not staying stagnant.
So as a leader, how can you encourage your team to give YOU feedback on giving feedback?
The first thing in rocking any constructive employee feedback conversation is sincere relationship-building. Take time to understand what your people are going through inside and outside of work. Do this by sitting with them one-on-one. We’re all human, and humans need these connections to feel whole and included, even at work. Dedicating time to building these relationships and opening the dialogue keeps your employees feeling like they’re more than just a number. You even provide yourself a successful and positive setup to give feedback where feedback is due, constructive or otherwise. That way, if you ever come across someone who would like more than the average amount of feedback, don’t be afraid to ask them exactly what their preferences are.
Tailor Your Method to Your Employees’ Preferences
Heeding to individual preferences will increase the likelihood that they will find your criticism helpful and be more willing to act on it. For example, do they want immediate feedback, or would they prefer to wait on it? Do they prefer having an in-person meeting or communicating via email? Would they be more comfortable in their workspace, your office, or a neutral area? This will give you the chance to understand them better and offer that feedback in a more positive, comfortable way.
Linking Feedback to What’s Important to Your Employees
If your employees see the link between your feedback and the things they care about personally, they’ll be more receptive to it. For example, consider someone who cares about being respected by peers but is habitually 10 minutes late to weekly staff meetings and often blames tardiness on their busy schedule. A leader might simply reprimand them either nicely or sharply. But a more effective strategy is to say something like: “How do you think coming in late affects your reputation with your colleagues?”
Remember that giving positive feedback where it’s due is just as needed as providing constructive feedback. But be sure not to lean too much on being positive, or your feedback may come off as insincere. On the other hand, being transparent and upfront while also accommodating their needs reassures your employees that you haven’t lost perspective.
Caring Leaders show they care not just by doing the things that make everyone comfortable. On the contrary, they show they care by providing feedback that helps their people stretch beyond what is comfortable.