- Make casual, conversational feedback just part of everyday life, both by being more mindful of giving it and…by explicitly requesting a feedback discussion—First, be more conscious of opportunities to briefly acknowledge when someone does something well and, in a low key way, suggest how they might improve upon something they did. Second, invite feedback discussions. This might sound like: “Hey…what do you think worked well with our presentation to the senior leaders and what do you think we could have made better?” or “What did you like about the way you led the project team and what lessons did you learn that you can apply to future projects?
- ”Whenever appropriate, ask them first for their self-assessment—This is a great way to communicate “We are two adults here working together” and help reduce the unpleasant Teacher/Student or Parent/Child feeling that getting feedback from one’s manager can trigger…even if it’s complimentary.While negative feedback can feel like you’re in the Principal’s office, and thus feel demeaning, getting feedback in a way that feels like you’re getting a pat on the head by a superior is also not particularly pleasant.Besides being conscious of voice tone and word choice, and making sure they communicate “We’re two adults here”, you can also emphasize this posture by asking them for THEIR thoughts about how they did. This helps them feel a sense of control. Rather than being passive recipients of another’s evaluation, THEY are steering the ship. They are using their knowledge and wisdom to self-evaluate, and therefore are being active collaborators with you. Doing this is especially important with self-directed, independent, or rebellious people, who especially bristle at being put in a one-down position.
- Engage employees in “what works best for you related to getting feedback?” conversations.—You could open up this conversation like this: “One of the things I want to do more of with each team member is give feedback…not negative feedback necessarily…so don’t worry …just feedback in general…both ‘Way to go…that was awesome’ feedback as well as ‘Here’s how you can be even better in this area’ feedback. To make that work well, though, I need to understand what works best for each team member, because as you know, what works best for one person might not work well another.So…with that in mind…I wanted to get your thoughts about what works best for you…So…can you give me examples of style of feedback that doesn’t work for you and examples of feedback that does work for you?”Make sure as part of this conversation, you include positive feedback examples, both because you want to emphasize that you are talking about all kinds of feedback, not just negative feedback. and because it’s also important to tailor your positive feedback.
Note: You will learn more ways to make constructive feedback actually constructive in the upcoming seminar Managing Millennials: How to Bring Out the Best in the New Generation of Employees