Authentic, precise and timely feedback is vital for ensuring employee success and maintaining team cohesion, but not all types of feedback are productive. Some are even detrimental.
Learning to provide positive and negative feedback clearly and effectively will enable you, as a manager, to prevent and resolve conflict while keeping the team aligned with its shared vision.
Feedback is like a muscle – the more you practice providing it, the better it becomes.
Type 1: Open Door Feedback.
We’ve almost all experienced working under a boss who assumes feedback only goes one way! It’s just as valuable for employees and team members to have a method for providing positive and negative feedback to the business.
That’s why having an open-door policy is a necessity.
Open door ensures:
- Employees know that management values their opinions.
- Transparency amongst team members and leaders.
- Problems do not build up among team members, causing resentment.
- A safe, supportive company culture is cultivated.
- Employee engagement and productivity are boosted.
For open-door to work, managers must commit to accepting both positive and negative feedback without reactivity.
Even if there are disagreements, both parties must commit to understanding one another’s point of view.
The best managers ask for feedback. You can schedule weekly/monthly check-ins or provide a physical (or virtual) suggestion box for the team to submit anonymously. Or do both!
Type 2: Team Feedback.
Did you know that 60% of team members feel that something is holding them back at work? According to Know Your Team, making decisions is only possible when teams are on the same page.
The manager can model this, but all team members should feel responsible for the feedback process and checking in on one another.
A self-assessment can also improve the performance of one’s work.
(Related: Ultimate Guide To Transformational Leadership).
If you’re a manager, you can support peer-to-peer feedback by:
- Scheduling team meetings outside the office for your team to regroup and refresh.
- Treating all members with respect and empathy despite workplace challenges.
- Practising emotional intelligence ensures all team members stay aware of the shared goal.
Get to know each team member’s personality type with a Myers Briggs or, for the more spiritual type – Human Design Archetype. These will help you relate to one another’s communication style with more understanding and compassion.
Type 3: Positive Feedback & Reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is essential when cultivating a nurturing work culture. Regular, authentic reinforcement allows employees to feel valued and rewarded.
Studies show positive reinforcement results in reduced turnover rate, increased skillsets, faster growth, and more innovative ideas.
There are several places you can introduce this:
- As an organisation, use positive reinforcement from the top down.
- Consider rewards and bonuses for team members who hit their quotas.
- Schedule an extra day off for those working hard on projects once the proposals are submitted.
- Throw a Friday breakfast/brunch in the office or lunch party for the team.
- Recognise star performers in monthly meetings in front of the wider team.
- Award particular team members additional accounts if you work on a commission-based system.
Type 4: Actionable Feedback.
Also known as ‘constructive criticism,’ this feedback is more challenging to deliver.
Actionable feedback differs from criticism in that you provide your employee with a way to improve their performance, plus the reassurance that you support them to succeed.
Ways you can approach this are:
- Break down actions into KPIs to monitor and evaluate employee performance ongoingly.
- Ask employees to submit pain points/parts of the role they find challenging.
- Take stock of how the team feels about one another and consider this.
It’s up to you to provide the tools, training, or time management skills they need to excel.
For team members who may struggle with receiving constructive feedback, consider the renowned ‘feedback sandwich’ by cushioning critiques between two positive attributes. Better yet, you can ask for their constructive feedback directly after so they feel equal in being heard.
It’s vital to track check-ins and internal reviews if an employee’s contract is cut short, so both parties know that attempts were made to rectify the lack of performance.
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Type 5: Regular Scheduled Reviews.
Consistency is key to maintaining a healthy and harmonious work environment. Regularly scheduled reviews will give employees a sense of routine and know when and where to expect feedback.
How to ensure a review goes well:
- Prepare the agenda/talking points ahead of giving feedback.
- Notify the team of their review date so they can prepare any concerns or queries.
- Avoid questions like ‘How are you going’ – ask specific questions around goals and responsibilities.
- Ensure you have positive reinforcement planned alongside constructive feedback to ensure the review is productive and proactive.
Depending on your industry and the nature of your work, you may want to schedule your reviews monthly, quarterly or biannually.
Keep a record of all discussion points so you can monitor progress.
Superpower Feedback Type: One-On-One Support.
One-on-one feedback is less like a review and more of a mentorship opportunity. You’ll guide an employee or assign another trusted employee to ‘buddy’ up with a team member for focused career progression.
Whilst 84% of Fortune 500 have mentorship opportunities, only 37% of working professionals have a mentor.
The results are clear – mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors, AND mentors are six times more likely to be promoted.
- Modelling someone the behaviours they need to excel in their role.
- Addressing difficulties or mistakes through training sessions.
- Scheduling regular check-ins to assess the employee’s progress. Although one-on-one support is time-consuming, it’s a vital type of feedback to offer in a leadership role.
Which Is Better: Informal Feedback Or Formal Feedback?
Informal feedback is the continuous, in-the-moment coaching of employees and team members (given outside of the official evaluations and appraisals). An example of informal feedback is:
Formal feedback incorporates feedback at predetermined intervals and is often documented for both parties (generally the employee and employer) as proof of things like KPIs, competencies, achievements, behaviours, and standards.
It is typically assessed and scored according to an organisation’s internal methodology.
- They can be part of weekly, monthly, or annual reviews.
So, which is better? Formal feedback or informal feedback? People tend to believe that informal feedback is more powerful and influential than formal feedback, given that it’s more organic and honest.
Formal feedback has its pros, though: it’s more objective, specific, and easy to measure and assess. Neither is more important than the other.
(Related: How To Write A Formal Warning Letter).
What Are The Key Differences Between Positive And Negative Feedback?
Constructive feedback comes in two primary forms, both of which can be helpful and productive. These forms are positive feedback and negative feedback.
- Operates on the premise of building and reinforcing the strengths of a person.
- Tells a person when they are performing well and, in turn, gives praise for their overall performance.
- Clarify learning goals, and success criteria, offering encouragement, and showing the right direction.
- When practiced, such a person is likely repeat the same behavior in order to continue meeting and exceeding expectations.
- Critiquing an employee’s work and offering advice on how to improve.
- Communicating to someone that his or her attitude or behaviour is unacceptable.
- Negative feedback should be given, whether or not the worker intended to do something wrong.
Why Do Managers Fail At Feedback?
For feedback to be conducive to professional development, research shows it has to be appropriately and regularly implemented.
Keep the following front of mind as a manager:
- Be Proactive: Although you can celebrate accomplishments or address challenges at scheduled reviews, providing effective feedback on the spot when you see fit is essential.
- Personality Management: Some team members take feedback more personally than others, becoming defensive or upset. It’s essential to allow all that work in the organisation to feel valued for their strengths.
- Be Specific: Instead of saying, “we need you to bring in more revenue, it’s more effective to say, “next quarter, we’d like to see your sales increase to $15,000. That’s an increase of $5,000 from where you are. How do you think we can do that? Employees need to feel they can discuss their reservations or pitch their goals.
- Follow-Up: Send an email to recap review or feedback sessions, or – schedule a diary meeting one-on-one to touch base with team members about their action plan.
- Acknowledge Hard Work: All employees need to feel fulfilled and valued in their roles. You should refer to ongoing notes around feedback when the time comes to promote or organise bonuses.
Many workers will assume negative feedback when constructive tips are not delivered gently. Ensure you reserve constructive feedback for one-on-one settings.
Bottom Line About Providing Feedback To Employees.
The above types of feedback will help to increase company morale, cohesive teamwork and job fulfilment in any organisation.
As a manager, if you want to know how your team is feeling or if you’re providing them with actionable and effective feedback, ask them!
I check in with my team often to ensure that we’re on the same page and to uncover what they need from me.
A transparent and respectful relationship where everyone knows their responsibilities makes for a supportive, productive and resilient workplace environment.