Let’s face it. The job of a leader is a tough one. Days are filled to the brim with tasks; the emergency of the moment must be resolved; and someone needs your help them in some way. Given the high demands of the day, your team’s most important need from you is often left undone (but not for good intentions)—feedback from you. If this describes you (and you are tired from simply reading these sentences), then this post is for you. Follow these three feedback strategies and you will propel your team to greatness (and lessen your load a bit in the process).
Feedback always follows clear expectations.
It’s pretty tough to win a game when no one knows the rules. The same is true for your team. All too often we assume our employees know what is expected. After all, isn’t good service common sense? Well, it’s not and neither are the details of your expectations. Invest a few moments on the front end and ensure every person on your team understands two key parts of their job: 1) what is expected – those functional parts of the job (product knowledge, sales goals, how to operate the machine, etc.), and 2) how the job is to be done – the relational parts of the job (how to communicate with others, what follow through looks like, how to address differences, etc.). For you see, if those ground rules – ie: expectations – are clarified up front, when those feedback conversations occur, you are simply referencing behavior we both have agreed to live by.
Their perception matters more than your intent.
Your employees are not mind readers (even those you have worked with for years). And while your words may be intended to “help” them, if the other person doesn’t hear those words as helpful, your message will never be heard. You have two goals in feedback: 1) your employee keeps an open mind during your conversation, and 2) he or she understands your message so the desired change in behavior can occur. So how does that happen? Your team must trust you. They know you have their (and the team’s) best interest at heart – even during those tough conversations. Be intentional with your approachability and consistency so those tougher conversations can occur – not because you like them but because you both recognize they need to happen.
The need for constructive feedback typically grows over time. A trend in negative behavior occurs enough (without self improvement) that you feel the need to address it. You think about it for a while then decide to address the issue. The conversation happens and all goes well, but in your misguided attempt for efficiency you say this, “By the way, while we’re together, here’s one more thing I’d like to talk to you about.” Innocent enough. You think you are being smart with your time but actually the employee shuts down. Why? You’ve been living with this 2nd thought for a while but your employee is hearing the message for the first time as is still trying to make sense of the performance problem you just made him aware of. The conversation happens but in most cases the behavior doesn’t improve the way you had hoped. You mean well (and that’s good) but your employee feels like negative grenades are coming at him with every additional comment. So keep it simple – one item at a time – so your employee doesn’t want to “take cover” every time you need to chat a few minutes.
Now the fun part begins. You are ready to propel your team to some great things this year. You are their coach and the team is waiting for your direction. Follow these three tips and start seeing the results.
By the way, we love sharing great tips! Do you have a technique that works well for you? Tell us! Share your tips so others can learn from your expertise. Ready. Set. Go!
We’d love to keep in touch with you. To join the OI community, simply click here!