Yearly or half-yearly appraisals are clearly a thing of the past – gone are the days of storing up feedback for those isolated (and somewhat stilted) conversations.

In today’s world, new managers need to be ready and prepped to give feedback in the moment. They need to be ready to open dialogues, address issues before they have the chance to escalate, and maintain conversations as an ongoing professional growth process  easier said than done!

One of the real problems in giving effective feedback is knowing how the other person is going to take it, how will they react?

We’ve all been there. A simple point in the right direction gets misinterpreted and before you know it, the situation is ten times worse than if you hadn’t opened your mouth. 

So what do we tend to do? We don’t say anything in order to avoid potential conflict… But does this solve the problem? No.

Giving positive feedback comes to us all a lot more naturally – it’s much easier to find the words to support someone’s achievements. And yet still, it often gets neglected, as complacency can easily creep in, we start taking people for granted and their contribution quickly becomes overlooked.

What does good feedback achieve?

  • It builds confidence
  • It sets out a clear understanding of expectations
  • It helps individuals to learn from mistakes and not repeat them
  • It makes people feel valued
  • It creates a culture of nurture and support
  • It helps develop strong relationships
  • It motivates people to do better

What does good feedback look like?

  • Timely – feedback can be spontaneous, but it can also be deciding to schedule a meeting to address more involved issues.
  • Specific – good or bad, feedback needs to mean something to the recipient and be relevant to their actions.
  • Candid – all feedback should be sincere.
  • Regular – avoid complacency and get in to a good habit of giving feedback so that the individual can continue to work on certain points.
  • Positive – avoid using negative language that could put the individual on the defensive.
  • Private – make sure you’re in the right place to have an open and honest conversation.

So, we all understand the theory  the difficulty is actually doing it! You won’t get it right first time, so how do you hone your skills without your team members feeling like guinea pigs?  How do you gain confidence and respect as you implement the change you know should happen?

How to get better at giving feedback

Just like any new skill, giving feedback gets easier and better the more you practise.

But it’s not just about practice alone – we also need to receive feedback on that practice. Because without feedback, we can’t improve. When we practise and get feedback, it raises our self-awareness and we move from unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence – i.e. we know what we need to do to improve.

Practice helps us to learn from our mistakes, try a different approach next time, adapt our language, tweak our style and, importantly, learn what works and what doesn’t. These are key skills that are critical for new managers to adopt and develop quickly so that their teams become more productive and feel valued.

As you can see – I’m a firm believer in both feedback and taking the time to practise, so that any feedback you offer is taken onboard as you intended. I don’t believe anyone needs to fail.

For more ideas on how to build impactful practice approaches into your training programmes, please get in touch.

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