Feedback, as important as it is, can easily be delivered incorrectly or perceived incorrectly. But if organizations are committed to creating a culture of feedback within their organizations, then getting familiar with feedback, including what to avoid when giving feedback, is important. All employees should be comfortable with giving and receiving feedback to and from their peers. In fact, 82% of employees appreciate positive and negative feedback. However, feedback is a double-edged sword- not all feedback is effective feedback.
1) Overly negative feedback
Constructive feedback can be nerve-racking. Hard for managers to deliver, and sometimes hard for employees to hear, but constructive feedback is very important for employee development. Constructive feedback is helpful because if delivered properly, it is developmental. Because some managers struggle with their delivery, they end up giving negative feedback which does not help with development. Therefore, employees may worry about their performance reviews with their managers because the feedback can be misinterpreted to be a personal attack. Feedback should not be focused on personality traits, but instead should be focused on the employee’s behavior. If employees are constantly receiving negative feedback that is not delivered in the right way, they can easily become disengaged and unmotivated in their work. Constantly hearing about problems with their work, can not only make them resent their employer and their job but it can cause them to burn out quickly. Remember- there is a big difference between constructive feedback and just plain out negative feedback. Make sure you are lifting your employees up and not constantly tearing them down. Delivery is important, make sure you are being kind when providing feedback. Collaborate with your employees on how they can improve their development areas. It can showcase that you truly care about seeing them succeed.
2) Overly positive feedback
Similar to constantly receiving negative feedback, it is not beneficial to constantly be giving overly positive feedback. We all love to be recognized and rewarded, but employees need to be able to stay motivated. Now more than ever people are hungry to constantly be learning and improving, and if managers are not helping them find areas where they can develop, they won’t be able to advance their careers. Overly nice feedback can also cause more work for the manager. For example, if a manager is too scared to let an employee know they did poorly on a project, they may find themselves completing or redoing the task, which is wasteful for both the manager and the employee. Being a kind manager is an admirable quality, but to avoid being an overly nice manager, come prepared when giving employees feedback. Bring specific examples of their performance and make sure to include times where you felt they could have improved!
3) Feedback that is not 360
Feedback is not only meant to be given from manager to employee. Organizations should be encouraging everyone to be giving 360-degree feedback including to peers and up to managers. 360-degree feedback creates a more accurate picture of employee performance, especially when it comes time for performance reviews. Managers are not always privy to the day-to-day operations of all employees, therefore 360degree feedback allows employees to get feedback from their peers who truly know what they might need help developing on. Due to all the feedback being shared in the organizations once 360-degree feedback is implemented, a 360 feedback software might be useful to be able to documents and analyze all the feedback conversations being held. This helps organizations make better-educated decisions about their talent.
4) One-sided feedback
Feedback needs to be a two-sided conversation for it to be useful. If the employee feels that they are only hearing what they can improve on instead of voicing their own opinion on what they think they do well or where they are struggling, they can once again feel undervalued. To create a two-sided open conversation between employees and employers, managers should first get the employee’s thoughts about how they think they have been doing- the good, the bad, and where to improve before the manager gives their own opinion. Asking open-ended questions is key to creating this dialogue.
Moreover, managers should also ask employees for feedback- whether that be on their leadership style, communication, or progress on company objectives. Some examples of questions to ask to your direct report include
- Do you want more feedback?
- What could I do (as a manager) to make your work more effective/ more productive?
- How can I better support you? Is there anything I could be doing better or differently?
- Is there a situation/ objective/ task you’d like my help with?
- Do you feel as if you have enough autonomy?
Feedback is important but needs to be delivered in the right way. Make sure you are not only training your managers but training your employees about the benefits of feedback. Workshops on how to give feedback can be extremely useful when trying to implement 360-degree feedback.