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The Right Feedback Mindset Many employees mistakenly see feedback simply as the company’s way of assessing who gets a raise, a promotion or who gets fired. You may have noticed that this mindset can elicit different reactions in your team members. When people are overconfident in their abilities they may see feedback as a waste of time and as a confirmation of what they already know. For others, the idea of being individually scrutinized can be extremely nerve wracking. Going into a performance review with this type of mindset will prevent you from seeing feedback for what it really is: an opportunity for improvement.

The Manager’s Guide to Effective Feedback What do I get out of feedback?

Most employees only receive feedback once a year. This can leave you in the dark about whether you are on the right track. Feedback can be a guide to understanding your manager’s expectations and more importantly, can be a chance to improve your performance. Imagine you keep encountering the same obstacle to your work and don’t receive advice on how to resolve the issue until your annual performance review. Once you’ve made a change, you then have to wait until the next year to hear whether the changes you made were effective. Feedback is not just useful to identify areas for improvement, it can also give you ideas on how to streamline your work and set new goals for yourself.

Even if your work output and quality are top notch, being a top performer is also dependent on your interpersonal skills. Sara Canaday, author of “You -- According to Them: Uncovering the blindspots that impact 4

Content #1 The right feedback mindset


> Why is feedback important for me as a manager? > Changing your mindset 4 > How to create a feedback culture in the workplace: 1. It starts with you 6 2. Encourage employees to come to you for feedback 3. Promote peer to peer feedback 7 .. Identify Identify and and coach coach employees employees with with fixed fixed mindsets mindsets Summary and take-aways

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#2 Giving positive feedback


> Putting positive feedback to the test > Why is positive feedback important? > How to give positive feedback . e specific 2. Timing 3. Get into the habit of giving feedback more more frequently frequently 4. Set goals and new challenges 5. Encourage a positive feedback culture > Summary and take-aways

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#3 Giving constructive feedback

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> Why should Ii be giving constructive feedback? > How ow to give constructive feedback > Steps to giving constructive feedback effectively: 1.. Scheduling a one-on-one feedback session 2. Tone and delivery 1

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3. Start positive . e clear and specific 5. Frame your feedback using a growth mindset 6. Don’t overdo it 7. Find a solution together . Follow up by recognizing achievements > Summary and take-aways

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#4 Receiving positive feedback


> The link between your positive feedback and employee engagement > Using your feedback to tap into your strengths 1. Share appreciation 2. Identify your strengths and use them to power up your management style . ow can you leverage your strengths to benefit your team 4. Set goals for yourself > Summary and take-aways

#5 Receiving constructive feedback > Impact of failing to ask your employees for feedback > How to get your employees to give you more constructive feedback 1. Schedule regular feedback sessions 2. Ask the right questions 3. Control your emotions 4. Understand their perspective 5. How can you improve employee satisfaction? > Summary and take-aways



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The Right Feedback Mindset


A dramatic shift in the job market has led many companies to turn to feedback to improve employee retention rates. Unlike in the past, employees are feeling less tied to company loyalty and freer to take on new opportunities. Millennials in particular are notorious for their job-hopping tendencies, with most being expected to stick with each job for less than three years. Employee turnover can result in major costs for your company, and significantly impact company morale. Think about how much time you’re already spending recruiting new people to replace those who left. Attracting top talent will also become more challenging as potential hires are not only looking at salaries, but also quality of the work environment. Rating based reviews on websites like Glassdoor are helping hires become more selective and raising concern amongst companies over the potential for disgruntled employees to scare off new talent. As companies focus more on trying to reverse this trend, feedback has emerged as a way to better engage employees. To some, giving candid feedback more often may seem counter-productive, but a Gallup Inc. study shows that of employees fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback. As a result, companies are investing more in new feedback technology to encourage the exchange of feedback between managers and employees. Faced with the challenge of satisfying a more demanding employee population, managers will be responsible for using this technology to infuse the workplace with a greater feedback culture.



Why is feedback important for me as a manager? While the entrance of Millennials into the workplace will present new opportunities, it will also require adjustments to your management style. The top two most commonly cited reasons for employee turnover are problems with management and a lack of opportunities for professional development. In fact, a 2014 study by Deloitte University revealed that two-thirds of Millennials believe managers are responsible for providing them with further development opportunities. In other words, managers must become more open and engaged in their employees’ career growth to meet their expectations. When given effectively, providing your employees with more feedback is one of the best ways to demonstrate your involvement in their professional development. Giving your employees’ advice on how to enhance their skills and helping them to develop career goals is a powerful way to motivate your team. Even if you don’t have any constructive feedback to give, giving positive feedback is a great way to acknowledge an employee’s work and make them feel valued within the team. In the long term, feedback can significantly boost team spirit and productivity. Feedback is not only helpful for improving your employees’ performance, but also allows you to pinpoint adjustments that need to be made to your management style. Employees might be reluctant to voice concerns about your performance as a manager until it’s too late. Creating an open environment in which employees are encouraged to give you feedback in return will foster greater trust between you and your team, and alert you to potential con icts before they heat up.

Changing your mindset 5

To realize the benefits of a feedback culture, you and your employees will need to overcome common misconceptions about feedback. As a manager you may be hesitant to give constructive feedback to your employees and risk hurting or offending them. When it comes to your top performers, you may stick to showering them exclusively with praise as a way to demonstrate how satisfied you are with their work. When it comes to receiving feedback from your reports, you may feel uncomfortable or even defensive when given constructive criticism. You may question whether opening yourself up to feedback will undermine your position as a manager. If this sounds familiar you may have what Stanford psychologist Carol weck terms a “fixed mindset towards feedback. eople with a fixed mindset see their intelligence and personality as static features. Constructive feedback is therefore taken personally and can elicit a more emotional response. eople with a “growth mindset , on the other hand, see their abilities as learned traits which must be exercised and enhanced to develop over time. People with growth-centered mindsets will view feedback as a way to re-assess and hone their skills. emember that employees with fixed and growth mindsets may react differently to your feedback. If an employee becomes defensive or emotional when you review their performance, this may be a sign that they have a fixed mindset. To create a positive feedback culture, it’s essential that you coach your employees on how to open themselves up to and benefit from feedback.

How to create a feedback culture in the workplace: 1. It starts with you Become a role model for open communication by asking for more feedback. Creating an open environment in which employees feel comfort6

able reviewing your performance will help you to improve your management skills and encourage them to see feedback from a different perspective. It is likely that some of your reports will be hesitant at first to give you honest feedback. Here are some ways you can break down these barriers. 2. Encourage employees to come to you for feedback Be sure to make yourself available when employees seek feedback and follow up with them after giving it. Giving your employees feedback more often will motivate them to come back to you for advice when they need it. The most important part is to learn how to give a mix of positive and constructive feedback and work on delivery. Communicating feedback in a clear and constructive way will ensure that it’s received well and taken into consideration. The following guides will go into greater detail on how to deliver effective feedback. 3. Promote peer to peer feedback Getting used to giving and receiving feedback from each other will help employees improve their interpersonal communication skills and build a greater sense of team spirit. There may be some employees who continually take on an informal mentorship role. Help them to develop their potential leadership skills by providing extra training on how to give effective positive and constructive feedback. See our series of feedback guides for employees to get some inspiration. 4. Identify and coach employees with fixed mindsets Employees with fixed mindsets will need extra coaching to overcome their defensive tendencies. Consider holding one-on-one sessions where you can discuss their reactions to feedback, and come up with a plan to overcome their inhibitions. For tips on how to hold effective one-onones see here.


Summary and take-aways When given and received effectively, feedback can be a powerful tool to not only improve professional skills, but also to motivate, increase productivity and raise the profile of your company’s work culture. owever, as a manager you will not only need to adjust your mindset towards giving and receiving feedback, but also that of your employees’. • • • •

Ask for more feedback from your employees Encourage employees to come to you for feedback Promote peer to peer feedback Coach employees on how to achieve a growth mindset

Giving Positive Feedback


Feedback shouldn’t only be given when there’s a problem. It’s also important to let your employees know they’re on the right track and that they’re valued within the company. ecognizing achievements can signal to other employees the types of skills that should be enhanced and behavior that should be replicated. For those of you who are uncomfortable giving positive feedback, following the right steps will help you to deliver honest recognition that doesn’t feel forced or insincere.

Putting positive feedback to the test In his insightful Ted Talk “What makes us feel good about our work , behavioral economist an Ariely describes an experiment he conducted on the correlation between recognition and motivation. In the experiment people were offered declining amounts of money to circle pairs of identical letters on a sheet of paper. In the first scenario, people had to write their name on the paper. When they were finished, they handed it to an experimenter who quickly scanned the paper, said “aha and placed it on a pile. In the second scenario, the participants did not write their name on the paper. When they were finished, the experimenter placed the paper on the pile without looking at it. In the final scenario, the experimenter put the sheets directly into a shredder. The results showed that people in the first scenario ended up working for half as much money as the people in the third scenario. Watching their work being destroyed immediately was extremely demotivating, despite being offered money to do an easy task over and over again.



Surprisingly, it turns out that the average stopping point for people in the second scenario was almost the same as those in the third. As Mr. Ariely explained, “Ignoring people’s performance was almost as bad as shredding it in front of their eyes. Even just a simple acknowledgment from the experimenter had a marked impact on the subjects’ motivation.

Why is positive feedback important? A common misconception is that motivation in the workplace is primarily based on monetary rewards. It’s not always possible to give your employees a raise every time they do well, and surprisingly it might not be the strongest incentive either. A 2013 study by Make Their Day and adgeville revealed that of employees surveyed found recognition for contributions to be more fulfilling than rewards and gifts. Another believed praise from managers in particular was either very or extremely motivating. Positive feedback lets your employees know that they’re valued by the company and is especially important for building confidence in newer employees. It’s also helpful to give positive feedback when an employee improves in an area they had previously had difficulty with, making it very useful as a follow up to constructive feedback. Don’t forget that your top performers also need positive feedback. Many managers tend to neglect their top performers when it comes to feedback because they see it more as a tool for helping improve the performance of employees who are struggling. ecognizing them for their efforts and showing appreciation are important steps to retaining your top talent.

the step that will diffuse and institutionalize the practice within the office. The Make Their ay adgeville study reported that of respondents saw praise from peers as very or extremely motivating. eerto-peer feedback can inspire better interpersonal relationships between employees and boost team spirit.

How to give positive feedback: 1. Be specific Avoid generic comments like “good job Explain what your employee did in particular so they can learn what type of behavior they should keep up in future. Instead of saying “you’re a great team player describe what they did and why you appreciated it. “The extra coaching you gave to the new recruits on the last project helped them to learn the appropriate procedures, and helped our department to reach our deadline on time. This will also help managers who are uncomfortable giving positive feedback. If you stick with stating the facts and why you thought their performance deserved recognition you can avoid clichés. 2. Timing Timing is an important aspect of giving positive feedback. If you wait too long both you and the receiver might forget the details of their performance. This will undermine one of the main reasons for giving positive feedback: pointing out positive behavior so it can be encouraged and replicated. If you put it off for too long, when the employee finally receives appreciation for their work, so much time may have passed that it could feel more like an afterthought. If you don’t have time to speak with them straight away, send them a message or email. Letting the opportunity to give praise go by in some instances and not others can unintentionally create double standards.

While creating a positive feedback culture starts with managers, encouraging your employees to give positive feedback to each other is 11


3. Get into the habit of giving feedback more frequently Failing to recognize when your team has gone above and beyond can demotivate them. ot recognizing their efforts will tell them they simply met expectations. Getting into the habit of giving positive feedback more often will motivate your employees to achieve more. e careful not to base positive feedback exclusively on results. Sometimes even if an employee puts forth their best effort, a project could fall through due to funding, a client may decide to go in a different direction, etc. It’s at these times that positive feedback can be most effective in counteracting the demotivating feeling your employee may be experiencing after not seeing their efforts materialize. 4. Set goals and new challenges Even if you only have positive feedback to give, you should encourage your employees to continue improving by helping them set goals and new challenges. This is especially important for top performers who may become demotivated if they don’t feel they’re developing or being challenged. Start by asking them if they have any professional goals or objectives they’d like to accomplish in the next few months, or in the next few years. Consider how these short and long term goals could fit with the company’s objectives. Then offer support finding ways they could achieve these goals, for example, taking on a stretch assignment or participating in a training course. Keep in mind that the goals you’re setting together should be challenging but achievable, and won’t cut into your employee’s work-life balance. 5. Encourage a positive feedback culture A 2009 McKinsey Quarterly survey found that respondents saw praise from their managers, leadership attention and a chance to lead proj13

ects or task forces as no less or even more effective motivators than cash based incentives. Aside from giving praise, you can also recognize your employees’ achievements by suggesting they give feedback and coaching to peers who are having difficulties in that particular area. This can help top employees develop leadership skills, and at the same time boost the performance levels of other employees. Alternatively, you could suggest they give a presentation on this project, skill, etc. to the team. This will demonstrate an example of what you’re looking for to other employees and reinforce your recognition of their success. If employees share their successes with the rest of the team more often it will help foster a sense of community. Encouraging your employees to give more feedback and empowering them with new leadership skills is one of the best ways to keep them challenged and motivated.

Summary and take-aways An effective manager consistently recognizes their employees’ strengths and achievements with positive feedback. Employees who feel their work is appreciated by their manager and peers are highly motivated and more likely to stick with their current job. Giving more positive feedback can be a great way to encourage team spirit and a positive work culture. • • • • • •

Give examples and be specific Don’t wait too long Give feedback more frequently Don’t base feedback on results Set goals and new challenges Encourage peer-to-peer feedback and sharing of achievements


Giving Constructive Feedback


Giving constructive feedback to employees may seem like one of your most difficult tasks as a manager. ust thinking about it can conjure up images of emotional breakdowns and in amed tempers. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you learn to give constructive feedback effectively, you can avoid the drama and instead have an insightful conversation with your employee about their performance, and how they can improve it.

Why should I be giving constructive feedback? While you may feel uncomfortable giving candid feedback, studies show that that’s exactly what the majority of your employees want. A 2014 assessment of employee attitudes towards “positive and “corrective feedback by enger Folkman revealed that of respondents preferred receiving corrective to positive feedback. When given properly, believed “negative feedback was effective in improving performance. Interestingly, those who favored constructive feedback also rated their managers highest for being honest and straightforward in their reviews. What can be taken away from these statistics is the fact that most employees want to know what they can be doing to improve their performance. Waiting for an annual review to give constructive feedback risks bringing their professional development to a snail’s pace. A common mistake managers often make is to focus constructive feedback on employees who need the most improvement. Failing to provide your top performers with feedback can actually jeopardize your retention rates. Your top performers may become frustrated if they feel they’re not getting advice on how to improve and develop further. Replacing high-level performers can cost your company of their



annual salary. If you don’t invest time into helping your top employees hone and broaden their skills, you might lose them to other opportunities that will better test their abilities. What’s more, failing to respond promptly to behavioral issues can lead to greater impacts within your team. For example, if an employee has a tendency to lose their temper in group discussions, failing to address the situation may cause tensions between your employees to boil over by the time performance reviews come around, causing long term effects. Pointing out destructive behaviors to your employees will help them to realize the impact they’re having on the workplace and encourage them to make changes. Listening will help you to better understand the situation and any deeper issues which need to be resolved.

and that feedback has been received well. Finally, it gives you a chance to hear from them (a conversation rather than just an anonymous or top-down review and come up with effective next steps together. For further advice on how managers can follow up with employees after a 360 review see our blog. You may still have some employees who view feedback with a fixed mindset. It’s essential that you handle their reviews carefully and watch for signs that they may be putting up barriers to your advice. The more you get into the habit of giving feedback, the easier it will become for them to transition their way of thinking. onetheless, whether your employee has a fixed or a growth mindset, it’s crucial that you take the appropriate steps to avoid confusion and make sure your comments are received well.

Steps to giving constructive feedback effectively: As a manager you’re responsible for ensuring that your employees are on the same track working towards a common goal. When there is little communication between you and your employees, they may drift off in different directions, prioritizing different objectives. Constructive feedback helps you to guide your team members in the same direction and clearly communicate what they should be working towards. Guidance and clear objectives will enable your team members to streamline and coordinate their efforts bringing everyone forward. If you avoid giving candid feedback to your employees, ultimately it will be harmful not only to the individual, but to the team as a whole.

1. Scheduling a one-on-one feedback session The first thing you should consider is location. Whether in your office, an empty meeting room or a coffee shop, the best way to give feedback is one-on-one. If you give your employee constructive criticism in front of others it can undermine their confidence and put them on the defensive. When asking your employee to meet with you, be sure to frame it in a way that doesn’t cause them to become nervous. In most employees’ minds, being asked to meet in private with their manager could are warning signs about what’s to come, shedding a negative light on the conversation before it even starts.

How to give constructive feedback Though it may feel easier to give constructive feedback through 360 and performance reviews, there are three reasons why it’s important to balance this with one-on-ones. Taking time to schedule a more informal face-to-face meeting shows you really care about your employee’s professional development. It enables you to confirm they understand 17

Instead of saying, “can you come to my office so we can discuss your performance , ask if you can catch up later to discuss their progress. Keeping your request informal and positive will make sure they feel more relaxed about the prospect of meeting up with you one-on-one. Read further on how to lead effective one-on-ones.

2. Tone and delivery Using the correct tone and delivery is the most important step to giving effective feedback. Keep in mind the following guidelines: 3. Start positive Balance your constructive feedback by leading the conversation with something they’re doing well. This will give them an example of what you’re expectations are and boost their confidence. Make it clear you want to help them continue performing and developing these types of skills. Avoid using words like “but , “however and “although to link your positive and constructive feedback. Saying, “I like the way you communicate with others but will signal to them that your positive feedback may not be sincere. 4. Be clear and specific It’s important to clearly explain why this is hurting their performance. The best way to do this is to provide actionable feedback and specific examples. Saying, “you need to close more sales, won’t give your employee enough information. If instead you say, “I’ve noticed that when speaking with customers you sometimes miss the opportunity to tell them about This statement encourages them to recall their past conversations with customers and think about what actions they could take to change their performance. 5. Frame your feedback using a growth mindset emember that the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset is that people with a fixed mindset see their abilities as static so feedback can often be seen as a personal attack. Framing your feedback in a way that focuses on behavior rather than traits emphasizes that you are drawing their attention to certain areas because you believe it will help them improve their performance. The safest way to avoid this is to make statements based on facts and observations. 19

6. Don’t overdo it Though you may see several areas your employee needs to work on, overloading them with feedback could overwhelm them. Avoid confusion by focusing on improving one or two areas at a time. Wondering what you should target first Chief evenue Officer at ubspot, Mark Roberge, suggests using what he calls metrics-driven sales coaching. This method evolved from his experience taking golf lessons. Most golf instructors would tell him to turn his grip, change his stance, shift his weight and turn his wrist to improve his swing. This became confusing and didn’t lead to any improvement. Instead, one instructor had him turn his grip and practice his swing one hundred times. Then he continued to add and practice one new skill at a time until he finally saw results. Analyzing metrics of your employee’s performance will help you decide which skill to work on first. 7. Find a solution together Give your employees a chance to respond to your comments so you can see it from their perspective and properly address the situation. Remember your job is to give them perspective on their actions. For example, maybe one of their co-workers complained that they’re irritable and difficult to work with because they raise their voice during team meetings. The employee in question may explain that this is simply the way they speak when under stress. This not only gives them a chance to respond, but also to process your feedback. Once you’ve gathered the facts create a plan together. Give suggestions of ways they could adjust their performance and ask what steps they think they could take. This is also a good way to make sure they understood and will take steps to change their behavior. Ask for advice on how you as their manager can help them to achieve this goal. This will reinforce your willingness to help them and demon20

strate your receptiveness to receiving feedback yourself. You can also suggest finding an external mentor who may have a more neutral perspective. 8. Follow up by recognizing achievements One question managers often struggle with is how to follow up without feeling like you’re micromanaging. If you confirmed your employee understood your feedback during the meeting, and you created some clear goals and objectives together, you should be able to step back and let them implement these changes. The best way to show them they’re on the right track is to follow up by recognizing when they’ve implemented changes effectively with positive feedback and encouragement.

Summary and take-aways Giving constructive feedback to your employees is an essential part of your job. Though you may be hesitant to point out areas in need of improvement, more employees are actually looking for this kind of advice to help them develop and hone their professional skills. Learning how to give constructive feedback effectively will furthermore help you address tensions in the workplace, provide guidance and improve employee retention rates. • • • • • • • •

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Give one-on-one feedback Start positive e clear and give examples Use a growth mindset Phrase feedback in a constructive way Limit feedback to one or two areas at a time Find a solution together Follow up by recognize achievements in their progress


The Receiving Positive Feedback

Do you feel you’re getting the most you can out of the positive feedback you receive? When your performance review comes around it can be a great relief to receive positive feedback. Receiving appreciation for your work can be a great motivator, automatically boosting your morale. owever, many people fail to take full advantage of the significant resources positive feedback can provide. Some may feel hesitant to accept recognition, feeling modest about their achievements. Others may be good at accepting appreciation but fail to process it effectively. As a manager it’s particularly important that you learn how to use positive feedback to benefit your career and your team.

The link between your positive feedback and employee engagement Gallup’s 2015 report, State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for eaders, revealed that of US managers are not engaged at work. This can greatly impact their employees in what Gallup calls the “cascade effect . They found that employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are more likely to be engaged at work. Employee engagement is not simply about being happy but about feeling committed to your company and caring about your work. Positive feedback is one of the strongest ways of promoting company loyalty amongst employees, with valuing recognition from their managers over monetary rewards. Even if you feel hesitant accepting it, you have to admit it feels good to be appreciated for your work. You may confuse this for vanity, but it’s actually a natural reaction that occurs when your brain releases dopa35 23

mine. Dopamine is what causes the overall feeling of satisfaction you have when you’ve achieved your goal. Whether caused by low self-esteem or perfectionist tendencies, when receiving a compliment some people fight against this feeling and try to de ect the positive comments they’ve received. Constantly seeing your work in a negative light will bring down your confidence. What you may not realize is that failing to accept that feeling of satisfaction can actually impact the quality of your work and by consequence, the effectiveness of your employees. New research suggests that dopamine may actually be a great motivator. While previously linked only to pleasure sensors in the brain, researchers at the Universitat aume I of Castell n have found evidence that high levels of dopamine can actually encourage us to act and persevere to achieve goals.

Using your feedback to tap into your strengths If you learn how to analyze and use positive feedback to your advantage, you can gain valuable insights into your professional strengths. esearcher and applied psychology expert Michelle Mc uaid has been at the forefront of what has been called the ‘Strengths Revolution’. Through her research she has demonstrated the effectiveness of focusing on improving professional strengths over weaknesses. The rationale behind this shift is the motivation that employees feel when their efforts and abilities are recognized. According to McQuaid’s research, of managers who can name their employees strengths are more likely to have employees who are engaged and energized. A Gallup study has supported these findings, revealing that managers who are focused on strengths are more 24

likely to achieve above average performance levels. Identifying your strengths will help you to create goals for the future and come up with more effective ways of approaching a problem. Positive feedback is the key to unlocking your strengths based potential.

en was sincere. If your reviewer tells you that you’re a great organizer, ask for specific examples in which you demonstrated this ability. After you’ve received positive feedback from multiple sources compare what was said and see if you can pick out any common threads.

There are four main steps that will help you to harness the benefits of positive feedback:

Your strengths may not be traditional assets like being a good listener, team player, etc. Watch for abilities that others consider to be strengths. For example, facilitating the integration of the whole group or managing different personalities to get the best out of the team.

1. Share appreciation The way you respond to feedback is just as important as learning how to accept it. If your feedback is based on a team success it’s essential that you recognize your employees for their efforts and share the good feeling with everyone. As you read in giving positive feedback to your employees, recognizing your team will boost motivation and engagement. Your employees will also feel a stronger sense of community when group efforts are recognized, building team spirit. What’s more, sharing recognition will demonstrate you’re not the kind of manager who will try to take all the credit for your employees’ hard work. For example, if you receive positive feedback from upper management you can recognize your employees’ efforts by saying, “Thank you, we had an amazing group of people working on this project and we couldn’t have done it without the participation of the whole team. Share your recognition with the rest of the team by saying, “You played a key role in our achievement and our senior management has been very satisfied with the results, lets keep it up and continue looking for new opportunities. 2. Identify your strengths and use them to power up your management style To identify your strengths, separate the facts from opinions. This is particularly helpful if you’re uncertain whether the feedback you were giv25

Relying on your strengths rather than trying to use weaknesses when an important assignment comes up can help you succeed. Think about how you can utilize your strengths to approach a problem in a different way. Based on your strengths, what in particular can you bring to the team? 3. How can you leverage your strengths to benefit your team? Now that you’ve learned how to process your positive feedback it’s important to help your employees do the same. Showing appreciation to your employees is an effective way of improving your employees’ job satisfaction and confidence. Furthermore, if your team knows what each other’s strengths are it will become easier to delegate and assign tasks to the most suitable person, making your projects even more successful. Learning how to use your strengths will make you the perfect coach to teach your employees how to identify and utilize theirs effectively. 4. Set goals for yourself Don’t take strengths for granted, they are skills which should continue to be developed. In an article directed towards teachers experiencing burnout at the end of the school year, eurologist udy Willis suggests using a video game model of goal setting to kick start dopamine-in26

duced motivation. The video game model involves three essential components: “buy-in, achievable challenges, and frequent awareness of achievable progress en route to the final goal. This tactic can be instrumental in helping students achieve a growth mindset, and it can also help teachers reach their goals in the classroom. However, Willis asserts that these goals should be based on activities you will enjoy doing. This is where your strengths can come in handy. In an interview, Mc uaid explained that she uses her curiosity to learn and share something new with her employees every day. To achieve this goal she lays a book or article across her keyboard every evening. This forces her to pick it up and read for ten minutes before she turns her computer on the next morning. She then shares this information with her boss, a co-worker or her employees. Tracking your progress with positive feedback at work can similarly help you to stay engaged and even improve your performance. So the next time you receive positive feedback, instead of brushing it off allow yourself to enjoy the moment and benefit from it.

Summary and take-aways Everyone feels good receiving recognition for their work. Learning how to channel your positive feedback into your professional development plan will help you to identify your strengths and boost your motivation at work. • ecognize your team’s contribution • Analyze feedback to gain insights into your strengths • Use your strengths to improve and streamline your management style • Find ways to use your strengths to benefit the rest of the team 2735

• Set achievable goals for yourself so you can continue developing your skills every day

The Right Feedback Mindset


A 2012 Gallup survey found that of actively disengaged employees in Germany would fire their supervisor on the spot if they could. sychologist Michelle Mc uaid’s survey found that of employees in the US would prefer a better boss to a pay raise. A global study by Development Dimensions International revealed that of employees surveyed said their boss had damaged their self-esteem. Another international poll by reported that of respondents thought they would do a better job than their manager. These statistics should be dramatic warning signals for managers everywhere. Before you assume this couldn’t be the case in your company, think about the last time you asked your employees for feedback on your performance. Failure in communication between managers and employees is one of the leading causes of declining job satisfaction and higher employee turnover rates. Gallup’s 2015 report on management in the US revealed that employees whose managers were not approachable were more likely to be actively disengaged. If the last time you asked your employees for feedback was more than a month ago, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Impact of failing to ask your employees for feedback aving an open and uid communication with your employees is what will make or break your career as a manager. If your employees feel comfortable speaking candidly with you about your performance you’ll be able to identify destructive behaviors, anticipate con icts within the 29

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team and pick up on what they expect from you as their manager. The constructive feedback you receive may surprise you. Keep in mind that your actions may be sending unintended signals. If you tend to raise your voice when discussing an exciting new idea, your employees may mistake your suggestions for orders. This could make them feel hesitant to offer different opinions. Similarly, talking with your team regularly can alert you to situations between employees that might require your intervention. If an employee is displaying destructive behavior without your knowledge, it could impact the office as a whole. Cornerstone On emand found that having just one toxic employee in a team of twenty can make your best employees more likely to quit, leading to significant replacement costs for the company. Constant outbursts between co-workers can bring morale down and make it difficult to complete team projects. Furthermore, your employees won’t feel as motivated to implement the feedback you give them if they don’t see you actively trying to improve your own performance. Not being open to criticism yourself makes it a one-sided situation and undermines how your employees see your feedback. Learning how to take constructive feedback well will encourage your employees to do the same.

How to get your employees to give you more constructive feedback Even if you are now motivated to receive constructive feedback from your employees, they might not be lining up to give it to you. If you don’t encourage them to objectively assess your performance, your employees’ will most likely not do so on their own. Remember that in most employees’ minds job security is very tightly linked to keeping 31

the boss happy. Losing your temper will only solidify their decision to never give you honest feedback. This means you will also need to learn how to control your emotions. Following these steps will help you get the feedback you need. 1. Schedule regular feedback sessions Scheduling regular one-on-one sessions with your employees is a good way to get them comfortable with giving you feedback. If they become accustomed to having casual monthly or weekly discussions with you about their performance, they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable giving you honest constructive feedback. Additionally, Gallup’s 2015 management report found that employees who have regular meetings with their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than employees who do not. See our blog for further reading on how to run effective one-on-ones. If you’re still having trouble getting your employees’ to open up, you can start off by offering them the option to give feedback anonymously. You can do this the traditional way by opening a suggestion box and reading submissions on a weekly or monthly basis. Alternatively, you can also use a feedback app that will allow your employees to send you anonymous feedback instantly from their phone. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure to demonstrate to your employees how you’re implementing their feedback. Seeing you take steps to follow their suggestions will encourage them to be more open. 2. Ask the right questions Most employees will feel uncomfortable giving their managers constructive feedback. Asking them the right questions will help you coax out real answers. If you want your employee’s straightforward opinion on an issue, try asking them a yes or no question. If you ask them, “Am I providing you with enough opportunities to develop your professional 32


they won’t have much room to be vague.

If you want more detailed information try asking open-ended questions. For example, “If you were a manager, how would you support your reports in their professional development process 3. Control your emotions The most important part of getting your employees to give you more constructive feedback is to keep your emotions in check. In asking them to give you candid feedback, you’re inviting them to communicate openly without fear of reprisal. Everyone is prone to becoming emotional or angry when they feel threatened. This feeling can trigger fight or ight warning signs in your brain which result in the tense feeling and increased heartbeat you feel when your start to get angry. If you let your emotions prevail, you’ll be breaking the unspoken agreement between you and your employee and ensure they won’t give you honest feedback in the future. emember this is your opportunity to find out what your employees think about your management style and how it can be improved to make them feel more engaged in the workplace. If you start to feel your employees are undermining your authority with the type of feedback they’re giving you, take your emotions into consideration. Think about what they’re telling you, ask questions and analyze whether they’re basing their feedback on opinions or facts. 4. Understand their perspective Think about why your employee is giving you constructive feedback. There are three main reasons that will motivate them to speak with you. The first involves questions concerning their personal career growth. If your employee feels they’re not being challenged enough this may be attributed to a lack of opportunities from your side. 33

Your employees will also expect you to address major issues in the workplace and encourage a positive atmosphere in the office. For example, if one of your employees is consistently creating a toxic environment with their negative attitude towards others, it’s considered the manager’s job to find a solution and maintain order. Finally, their feedback may concern your management style in particular. Maybe your employees feel your workload expectations are too high or you’re not easily approachable. Think about how this might be affecting the individual or the team as a whole. 5. How can you improve employee satisfaction? Having seen things from your employees’ perspective, think about ways you could address their feedback. If their feedback concerns professional development, you should consider what you’re doing to help them improve their performance. Remedies to this gap could include coaching, giving more feedback, training, leadership opportunities and giving more assignments that fit their goals and interests. A problem in the workplace may require you to step in to diffuse an office con ict or speak with an employee about their destructive behavior. A management problem could be more difficult to deal with, as in this instance it’s you that needs to accept changes to your behavior. Remember not to get defensive, even if your actions were merely misinterpreted, what matters is that you realize how it affects your employees and find some way to alter your behavior accordingly. Some common remedies may include adjusting your tone of voice, being more open to employees’ opinions, making yourself available for questions more often and spending more time ensuring your instructions are clear.


Summary and take-aways Receiving constructive feedback may not always be easy, especially when it comes from your employees. However, it can give you highly useful insights into your employees’ expectations, things that need to be improved in the workplace and how your reports perceive you. Following these steps will help you conquer your emotions and encourage your employees’ to become comfortable giving you more constructive feedback. • • • • •


Get into the habit of holding regular one-on-ones with employees Get more information by asking targeted questions Keep your emotions at bay See things from their perspective Ask yourself how you can improve your employees’ work life

The managers guide for effective feedback  
The managers guide for effective feedback  

Feedback from managers is at the core of an employee's development. Many managers aren't sure how to give and structure feedback well. Moreo...