Ken Blanchard, one of America’s best know business writers, once said: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions“.
The best tool you have
When done correctly, honest feedback is the best tool for improving your performance. If you think of it, all of us receive feedback every single day – in almost every conversation we have with people around us.
The way your friends respond to your ideas, the opinion you have about your friend's outfit, the evaluation you get from your boss or business partner, the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of your client after the project is done – every conversation is basically feedback, and a chance to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.
What makes feedback great?
The purpose of feedback is not to criticize (at least it shouldn't be), but to motivate others to perform better. That's why we refer to it as “constructive feedback” – because it gives us the opportunity to grow and improve.
The importance of effective communication is often overlooked and is one of the biggest mistakes in the business environment. Honest feedback comes with enormous benefits, both in terms of client satisfaction, and in terms of improvement in our business process.
At Devōt, we recognize the importance of productive and open communication at every level. No matter the title or time with the company, whether you are our smallest client or our largest, we pride ourselves on effective and efficient communication.
The ultimate motivator
A happy and productive employee realizes the value they add, while at the same time understanding the expectations of their job and the goals they need to reach.
Meanwhile, managers are tasked with keeping the work flowing while producing the best product imaginable and keeping their employees motivated and fulfilled.
Useful, informative, and constructive feedback is one of the manager’s best tools for motivating employees to do their best work. Every leadership role should imply an ability to deliver effective feedback. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
There isn’t just one right way of giving feedback. Good managers tailor their management techniques to each individual they manage. Nevertheless, there are some universally applicable characteristics – it should always be constructive, specific, and progress-oriented.
How does it benefit your business environment and culture?
One of the most valuable aspects of constructive feedback is its ability to create a nurturing environment where every individual feels empowered to grow professionally and constantly improve. The sooner you realize that honest two-way communication is crucial for growth – both in terms of individuals and the company – the sooner you'll start to work on your feedback skills.
We think of it this way: suppose our employees know their performance isn't aligned with the company's vision. In that case, they will be motivated to improve, thereby reducing the possibility of repeating the same mistake and avoiding stressful situations in the future.
A good manager needs to be able to communicate their expectations clearly to any employee, understand the full scope of their position, and avoid potential miscommunication.
Finally, one of the most significant benefits of honest feedback is building trust, respect, and loyalty between employees and management and among employees. It can be a great tool in building employees' confidence and ensuring better leadership skills for the management.
How to give constructive feedback?
So, how do we at Devōt implement tools for giving constructive feedback? By following a couple of recommendations:
Just be honest: constructive feedback should always be honest, direct, positive, and aimed at improvement – not criticism.
Always be specific: you should base your feedback on performance, attitude, behavior, and results – not on a particular employee’s personal traits. That way it will be received easier and with a positive attitude.
Substantiate: every time you can, your feedback should be corroborated with specific examples of wanted and unwanted behavior or performance.
Time and place: the person giving the feedback should always be prepared, which includes choosing the right time and place – preferably face-to-face, to avoid any misunderstanding that can occur via phone or e-mail conversations.
Prepare to listen: while giving the feedback, don't just “recite“ the facts you've written down; instead – listen to the person on the other side and be present in the moment. Being on the same wavelength is crucial for successful delivery.
Suggest improvements: the biggest difference between criticism and constructive feedback is suggesting improvements that are doable for a specific situation.
Two-way street: The person receiving the feedback might have a different point of view – let them express their opinion and bring their perspective to the table.
A skill that requires a life-long learning
Excellent, constructive feedback should always be perceived as having good intentions – with the primary goal of improving performance in the future.
What makes feedback a valuable growth tool?
Quality feedback is based on observation instead of the interpretation of someone's work or behavior.
Prompt feedback allows for the timely implementation of needed changes. That means managers must be ready to assess their employees’ work as soon as a task is completed and offer constructive criticism quickly, so as to keep the work flowing.
Managers must provide specifics for what they expect from an employee. Vague suggestions for improving an employee’s performance don’t help anyone.
Giving productive feedback is not an easy task. It is a skill that requires lifelong learning and perfecting. However, one thing is certain: constructive feedback allows us to learn something important about ourselves and our performance. So, once you accept it, the way you view improvement will forever change.
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