How Great Communicators Give Feedback Effectively

4 business people have red tape around their mouths

What happened here? Is it possible that these folks gave feedback in a way that was not well received? Not a happy consequence for the giver or the receiver of feedback. 

We have spent over twenty years helping clients establish the kind of open and honest communication that builds strong relationships and healthy organizations. We believe that the ideal corporate culture is one where employees are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas with their managers and where managers share constructive feedback to improve performance. This kind of open workplace communication supports mutual respect, innovative thinking, continuous learning and accountability. 

So what can we as managers learn from communication skills training on how to give feedback that encourages performance improvement and employee engagement? Here are a few tips:

Be authentic in your intention.
Know why you are giving the feedback. It should be for the purpose of helping your employees be more successful. If that is not the purpose, take a closer look at your motivation. Your job as manager is to guide and support the efforts of your team to be the best they can be. 

Yes, you will occasionally have to deal with employees who are underperforming. Be clear about what is expected of them. Encourage their efforts to improve. If they show no desire to better their skills, you may have to let them go. Otherwise, you will undermine the motivation of your more able and willing team members.

Keep it simple, straightforward, specific and objective.
Be clear but respectful and understanding. Ask questions to see if there is a reason behind the performance issue. There could be lack of clarity around the job role or task; or there could be circumstances that you were unaware of that require some compassion and extra support.   

Establish a follow-up time and stay available.
The behavior change you seek may not come easily. Make yourself available to answer questions and offer support as needed. Keep your follow-up appointment to check in on progress.

Don’t forget the positive feedback. 
Encourage and reward the behavior and performance you seek with feedback that is timely and specific. The carrot is far more effective than the stick. 

Open, honest communication builds trust. And it is trust that provides the foundation for teams that function well together and employees that stay engaged.

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