How to give effective feedback in the workplace

August 21, 2017 Caitlin Leishman

Feedback is essential to success at every organizational level, but not all types of feedback are created equal. Although giving feedback can be difficult, especially if it’s not all positive, regardless of whether you’re a manager or employee is it extremely important. Everyone responds to feedback differently, so it’s crucial to be able to deliver it in a way that the person being assessed is comfortable with.

Today, many organizations such as Adobe and Microsoft are leaving the traditional performance review behind. Traditional performance reviews lack efficiency, are typically only carried out annually, are overly simplistic, and fail to promote teamwork. Many are moving towards a system that provides feedback more frequently and supports peer-to-peer input. This is beneficial because employees are more likely to remember assessment details, feel more engaged with the company, and improve their performance more quickly.

Competency-based talent management is one solution that many organizations are turning to in order to measure and evaluate on-the-job behaviors. Competencies allow you to quantify success for behavioral requirements, skills, knowledge, and abilities. By incorporating competencies into conversations about performance, you will be able to better position the conversation and articulate where there are gaps in an employee’s skills. For instance, if a position has Analytical Thinking as a competency, and the required level for success at that competency is level 3, you can then determine if an employee’s behaviors match that requirement and if not direct the conversation towards how to address the specific gap.  Besides competencies, there are other fixes you can make to drastically improve how feedback is given and received in your organization:

  1. Build trusting relationships – People receive feedback better when they have a good relationship with the person delivering it. If the recipient understands that the feedback is meant for their benefit, it will be easier to guide them towards achieving their goals.
  2. Keep your criticism private – This doesn’t mean don’t voice your criticisms; just make sure they’re heard by the intended recipient only.
  3. Make sure it’s constructive and thoughtful – Don’t use feedback as a weapon to put someone on their guard. Your feedback should be validated and even if it’s not positive, it should be used to direct and inspire the recipient to improve. Also, don’t deliver feedback when you’re already in a bad mood as it sets you up for an unproductive conversation.
  4. Don’t be shy – Giving feedback can be tough, but it’s necessary on the path to improvement.
  5. Make sure your intent is clear – Make sure the recipient knows why you’re giving particular feedback. Stating why you’re sharing your thoughts and what you hope the recipient will do with the feedback goes a long way.

No matter what system your organization uses, continuing to have regular and constructive conversations about performance is key to achieving goals and furthering organizational success. If you’re considering competencies, we’d be happy to talk with you further about how they can benefit your organization on a variety of levels. You can also check out our products and services for an overview of what HRSG has to offer. 

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