One of the most common misconceptions is that feedback is a synonym for criticism. Rather, it’s a vehicle for mentorship in which managers can cultivate human capital. This is especially critical at the supervisor or director level because you’re responsible for the daily success (or failure) of your teams. I recently attended The PR Council’s training for becoming an effective people manager and walked away with a very important lesson: feedback is an active opportunity to develop talent, not a monotonous HR requirement. Here are other lessons in feedback that I’ve learned throughout my career and try to instill upon my teams:
Keep It Fresh
Feedback varies in flavor and presentation, ultimately aiding in personal development. But more importantly, it’s perishable. Do you wait until set review cycles (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) to share feedback? If so, you’re missing out on many critical moments to improve and inspire your teams. The most effective managers critique employees often and immediately – it can be as simple as tweaking a pitch or as substantial as suggesting an alternative strategy. After all, employees are human and mistakes will be made – but uncorrected mistakes inevitably fester into bad habits.
Foster Honest Exchanges
Explicit, transparent feedback eliminates any likelihood of miscommunication. Managers should avoid “sugar-coating” their suggestions at all costs and create an environment where insights are praised, not avoided. Creating open and honest forums is three-fold:
- Acknowledge the specific behavior(s) and ask how you can help.
- Offer actionable advice that’s absent of “vagueisms” such as “thinking outside the box,” “taking a deeper dive,” or “streamlining.”
- Establish additional touch points by scheduling weekly one-on-ones and team meetings, maintaining an “open door” policy and promptly responding to team emails.
Separate Cultural from Functional
When assessing current and prospective employees, form a healthy mix of objective and subjective standards based on your company’s values. For example, a likable applicant may not always be the most productive, and vice versa. Culture fit is a core tenet at Affect, but we make it a point to test an applicant’s attention to detail during the hiring process. If an interviewee shares similar values, yet doesn’t adhere to exact instructions on a writing assignment, we simply don’t hire. Exceptional character is an added bonus for any model employee, but it shouldn’t ever be confused with bottom-line, performance-based standards.