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Feedback for Managers

April 25th, 2009

In a previous blog post titled: feedback, I covered how to make the best of feedback that is provided to us.  Now let’s take a look at how to give feedback to others in a structured manner.  Providing feedback to others, such as our directs, it is not good enough just to create the awareness.  As managers we also need to define what the desired state or behavior is and follow it up with the definition of the plan to make changes.  So let’s look at the 3 distinct sections of the feedback:  Providing the feedback, defining desired state or behavior, determining plan of action based on feedback, and finally the ongoing coaching.

manager-feedback-graphic1

Providing the feedback

Like all feedback, it is imperative to provide the feedback in a way that the recipient of the feedback can understand it.

  • Deliver the feedback in a manner that creates the awareness about the behavior and also leaves them with incentives to address the behavior.  The goal is for the person that is hearing the feedback, to be motivated to take the feedback and make some improvements.
  • It helps to ask them if you can provide them with feedback about a behavior or situation that is still fresh in their memory.  Providing feedback once a year from a laundry list does not help the person improve.
  • It does help to explain the impact of the persons behavior on you or team.
  • Feedback needs to be about things that people do well and areas that they can improve.
  • Here are some Do’s
    • Ask for permission to provide the feedback.  This ensures that the person is receptive.  If they say No, find out why and what time would be better.
    • Explain how the behavior makes you feel.  Because it is your feelings, no one can argue with you about you feel.
    • Always speak in the first person about yourself or your team. Use terms such as I’s, me, my team, etc.
    • Exact instances and stick with the facts.
    • Timely feedback, provide the feedback within days of the event or cause of the feedback.
    • For your directs provide regular feedback.  Praise is also feedback.
  • Here are some Do Not’s
    • Feedback in a public forum is not feedback, it is public humiliation.
    • Do not pass judgment.  No one likes to be told that they are an idiot.
    • Do not only provide feedback about behaviors that need improvement.  Also provide feedback about things being done well.
    • Do not dredge up hearsay or rumors.

Defining the desired state/behavior

The feedback only creates the awareness, as managers we also need to show the way.  Therefore rounding out the feedback by providing the light at the end of the tunnel and defining the desired behavior or state provides the person with guidance on what the goal posts look like.  In most cases this also goes a long way because it balances out the negative feedback by helping the person by defining what is the desired state.  Having discussed the desired state or behavior, have the person define how they see the end state to ensure that they see it in a similar manner.  Ensuring that you are aligned at this stage is important because you do not want them heading off in another direction.  For the person receiving the feedback, they get to understand where the goal posts are and what they look like.

Plan of action

In our role as managers, we are responsible for providing guidance for our people and therefore after making the direct aware via feedback, and establishing the desired state/behavior.  We now need to ensure that the desired state or behavior modification is achieved.  This requires a plan of action that both parties agree to with specific milestones that allows for progress tracking.

Ongoing coaching

Sometimes the direct needs additional guidance as they attempt to modify their behavior.  They need to feel comfortable to come and ask for additional guidance, either from you or from others.  Remember coaching is asking questions in a manner that allows the person to solve the problem for themselves and not corrective instructions.

Why should I do this?

I have had many discussions with my directs where they are not comfortable with exerting this level of guidance on their directs.  Many of them felt that this was looking for conflict.

Look at providing feedback as the gift that it is.  Most people like gifts.

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