Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Ways Great Managers Give Feedback

Managers have to give feedback. If you want your business to continuously learn and grow, you need to use feedback as a tool. The question is, how do you give that feedback? What do you say to an employee who is struggling? Pretend you want an employee to be more professional. You want him to try smiling when talking to customers. He was trying, but kept forgetting. Or, perhaps, his work is plagued by mistakes and followed by customer complaints. How do you approach the situation?

Opinions don’t matter – analysis does
  1. Basing observations on what has worked in the past, or in a similar situation, is a good way to give analysis. Analysis is a lot more difficult to give than an opinion because analysis isn’t personal. Opinions can be offensive, and make an employee defensive. Sound analysis, however, is easier to absorb. It takes the discussion from “personal” to “factual.”
  2. Say the right thing at the right time. If an employee is doing several things incorrectly, it’s a good idea to let them know that several things can be improved, but pick just one to work on for now. Trying to change more than a couple of things at once becomes overwhelming for anyone. Also, experiencing success in one area gives individuals confidence to press forward and continue improving.
  3. Focus on the positive. Be sure to point out what the employee is doing well. Being positive about someone’s work makes them, and you, feel good. It psychologically puts both of you on the same side of the table and helps make changes easier.
  4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Looking at things from a different perspective opens up a wider range of solutions. It will also help you communicate those solutions.
  5. Experiment. Try something new to break up the monotony. A bored employee is an employee who makes mistakes.
As you implement the above suggestions, your feedback will improve. Closely observing a situation can reveal small changes that may make a huge impact. For example if you notice a technician struggling to talk to a customer, you might suggest he focus on what he knows about your products or on asking open-ended questions to a customer.

Receiving Feedback and Improving 1% Everyday

Just as giving feedback is a skill, so is receiving it. Even if the feedback is correctly given as analysis, it can still feel personal to the person receiving it. It is difficult to be told you are doing something wrong. But, when feedback is given without criticism, it increases the chance that positive changes will take place. And make sure to remember, without feedback there would be no improvement.
As an employee, view feedback as an opportunity to improve and get better. You know you aren’t perfect. In fact, you probably know precisely what your strengths and weaknesses are. Feedback is simply a way for a superior to help you make changes.
You are probably familiar with Thomas Edison—he completed over 3,000 experiments in order to perfect the incandescent light bulb. He was using feedback, not failure, as his benchmark. This is the same principle in business today. With feedback everyone improves. Working on the feedback and making small, incremental improvements each day results in huge improvements within just one year. A 1% improvement each day produces a 3,700% improvement over a year.
Feedback given and received correctly = many small improvements. And small continuous improvements make a BIG difference.
ContactPoint Solutions NGA WDDA

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