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Workplace Insights – Feedback: The Lost Art

January 29, 2015

Managers often complain that today’s employees are not self-motivated. My observation is that managers are often not fulfilling their roles as mentors.

The rapid workplace advances in technology allow fewer opportunities for good ole “face-time” between managers and staff. Feedback is becoming a lost art.  It is unfortunate, because providing feedback is so easy and the mentor reaps multiple benefits from delivering the feedback. A comment from a manager goes a long way in reassuring an employee that he or she is on the right track, or did a great job.

Positive feedback in particular is easy to deliver, resonates with every employee, and earns good will for the manager. A manager who articulates clear, critical, and constructive feedback helps his or her employees improve performance.

Feedback touches on three tenses: past, present and future. Feedback, simply put, is information about past behavior, delivered in the present, intended to improve future interactions. A smart employee wants to work for a manager who will help him or her develop and succeed.

The Tips

Here are a few simple tips we provide to managers when our Firm delivers our popular Coaching and Counseling Workshops to our clients:

1.     Be timely. Your message will be more effective if you deliver it in a timely manner.

2.     Clarity is critical. If you are vague, you will only confuse the listener.

3.     Descriptiveness counts. Better than saying “Good job” – best to say, “Your presentation was extremely detailed and your graphics provided a very contemporary look.”

4.     Honesty is a good policy. Stick to the truth; it will earn you more credibility.

5.     Be constructive. Don’t criticize just to be negative – see criticism as a teaching opportunity. Instead of, “Your anecdote was inappropriate” best to say “Next time let’s come up with a more fitting anecdote that hits home.”

6.     Use compassion. You gain nothing, and in fact undercut your efforts, by being nasty. Always deliver feedback with concern for the individual.

7.     Provide extra feedback to employees who work remotely.  Because they function in an isolated work environment, remote workers crave and deserve even more feedback.

The Opportunity

In short, don’t miss out on the daily opportunities to provide feedback to your staff. Providing thoughtful and sensible feedback will help develop a culture of professionalism and mutual respect.  By cultivating an atmosphere of trust and honesty, you will receive improved performance and distinguish yourself as a manager who is interested in constant learning and development.

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