Five simple tips for managers on providing feedback

How to give feedback to staff

Leisa Bulow

By: Leisa Bulow – October 2015

The days of the good old ‘feedback sandwich’ are gone, thank goodness! This was when you provided a piece of good feedback, then a piece of negative feedback, ending up with another piece of good feedback. You can almost picture it as some sort of dark, gooey spread in between two slices of fresh white bread.

One of the biggest issues with the feedback sandwich is that most people just ignore the negative feedback and think they are doing fine because they received so much more positive feedback. Unless, of course, the negative was really major and delivered very poorly, and the two positives were token at best. You then end up with a sobbing, quivering mess instead of a motivated employee.

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The other big no-no with feedback is holding on to it until performance appraisal time. If someone has been left alone, doing their thing, and thinking they are doing well, then you slam them at review time, it is a huge shock and demotivator.

So, what is the right approach? There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing feedback. You need to consider the individual as well as the needs of the team and the organisation.

Here are five main points to consider:

  1. Provide feedback regularly and often – have regular catch-ups to discuss performance in an open and informal manner.
  2. Be timely – if there is a major issue, address it immediately and don’t leave it to the next performance review. However, be careful not to embarrass your staff member in front of anyone.
  3. Be sensitive – discuss the reasons for any shortfalls with the individual and offer coaching or other assistance before it is too late to set things back on the right track.
  4. Acknowledge good work – this can be done individually or in front of the team (depending on the sensitivity of the employee, but most enjoy you letting everyone know what a great job they’ve done). Don’t just take the attitude that whatever they did is part of their job, so they shouldn’t expect anything for it. A show of appreciation for a job well done will motivate an employee more than just about anything!
  5. Celebrate the wins – not every achievement is by an individual. If the team performs well, provide that feedback to them all!

Receiving feedback should not be a scary experience for anyone. Provide positivity, encouragement, and support. Failing that, provide options and suggestions. Don’t use feedback as a weapon, use it as a tool to help shape someone’s future.

About the Author:

Leisa Bulow is a Learning & Development specialist, with over 25 years’ experience in customer service, sales, training, and leadership and management roles in a diverse range of industries, including retail, banking and finance, government departments and government projects (both state and national), and various corporate private enterprises.

Leisa currently contracts to (or consults in) businesses in her role as a Learning & Development Specialist/Manager and Instructional Designer, providing written and delivered training solutions and online training modules in technical systems training, leadership, customer service, sales, effective communication, team-building, and time management, and other courseware customised to the organisation she is working for.

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