Why is it that we avoid saying the most important things we need to say? If we think of it as helping someone - maybe we'd be more eager to speak up.
Particularly for managers, giving feedback can be the most impactful action you can take to make the biggest difference in your teams. If you'd like to feel better about giving it, or do it more effectively - read on.
Feedback is really just sharing information with someone, something that reinforces what they are doing; or something that needs to change - perhaps they can’t, or don’t, see it for whatever reason, aka a blind spot. Just think, the feedback - whether to keep them on track and inspire them, or to help them see something that needs to change - could be their only opportunity to know about it. In that sense, it is a gift.
If it’s given with the intention of it being a gift, to help someone, then the way it comes across will be a lot better than if it is given because we are so fed up with the situation or person that we just want to explode, or because someone told you in a leadership training that "you must give 3 times as much positive feedback" (and you're thinking yeah right, for what?).
Across all industries and no matter the company size, I hear the same reasons why managers don’t give feedback – why they don’t give positive feedback and why they avoid giving constructive (aka negative) feedback.
Top reasons managers and supervisors avoid giving positive feedback:
- “It’s their job” - why should I have to tell them what they’re doing right - It’s sounds cliché. - They’ll expect a raise or something if I tell them too many good things - I don’t need to hear it, why should they?
Think back to a time someone genuinely and specifically told you about something you did that really helped out the team or the company or a customer. Were you more motivated to keep working hard or less motivated? Exactly! When we give sincere, specific feedback to help someone see what they’re doing right, and we let them know that we appreciate it, it inspires them to want to do more. And hey, if they react by expecting a raise, it’s time to give them some constructive feedback.
Top reasons managers and supervisors avoid giving constructive feedback:
- Don’t know how to say it in a way that will come across helpful - Feel uncomfortable – don’t like confrontation - Hope it will take care of itself - Don’t have time to deal with it
If we keep in mind that we are helping someone, we’ll be more eager to say it and the way we say it will improve. Just think about how you say something when you’re helping someone, versus how you say something when you’re angry, frustrated, jealous, upset – your tone of voice, pitch, volume, and words are completely different. And because around 93% of a message someone receives is from non-words, even when you strive to find the right words, your frustration and anger are coming through loud and clear. (By the way, this typically happens because we’ve waited way too long to say something.)
Give constructive feedback with GRIT – Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. We always start with Truth, which leads to Generosity:
TRUTH: Be mindful of what is truth and what is not. Know the situation. Don’t take second hand information and assume it’s true. Strive to find the truth of the situation first.
INTEGRITY: Say it directly, to the point, and keep it focused on the issue, not the person
RESPECT: Say it with a helpful intent. Realize that you may not have the whole truth. Pause and give the person an opportunity to share information.
GENEROSITY: Help the person with a solution, or training, or give encouragement that they can make a change.
Back to that person who reacted to the positive feedback by expecting a raise - they most likely did it kiddingly, but we all know there’s truth behind the kidding. Address it. Your feedback might go something like this (with a helpful intent): It’s true Mary, you did a great job on the fountain project. It’s exactly what I expected you to do! I know you kiddingly said ‘where’s my raise?’ I just want you to know, I need to be recognizing you more for the things you’re doing right. Even though it’s part of your job, I really do appreciate when you do it well. [pause] If there’s anything I can do to help you, you let me know.
It’s really pretty simple to give recognition for a job well done. Remember the law of giving and receiving: give people the gift of feedback and you’ll receive many benefits, in ways you won’t even expect.