As a leader, your team looks to you for answers and support. Being able to deliver clear, actionable feedback is a critical leadership skill – one that’s both good for your team and good for your standing as a leader.
Here’s how to deliver feedback that everyone can use to improve.
Show Some Balance
No ones perfect. If you have identified an area where someone can improve, balance out that feedback with something positive. Perhaps they’re showing initiative, they’re committed, or they’re great with customers. Show that you’ve noticed the positives of their efforts, and your feedback will come across as more constructive.
Be Clear About What’s Wrong
Sure, it’s not always easy to point out an issue or shortcoming directly. But couching your concerns in soft language and generalities only invites confusion. In doing so, you run the risk of misinterpretation, which can lead to the need for more revisions and more interventions. Point out specifically what’s wrong, and don’t beat around the bush. Being able to show specific examples can be very helpful.
Look For Patterns
Individual or team weaknesses will often show up across multiple projects. If you notice a bigger pattern or trend in performance, let your staff know and develop a plan to work on it. Failing to intervene early on will only lead to greater inefficiencies and problems in future. If the same issue arises twice, you’re looking at something that may end up being a persistent problem that needs to be addressed.
You might find that there are multiple things your team can improve on. But throwing everything at them all at once can be daunting. Instead, identify the most important areas for improvement, and make the others subsequent or stretch goals. If you think meeting deadlines is the core issue, work on a game plan to make that happen, and then turn your attention to other areas. Some tasks will tie in with each other, so it might make sense to work on a group of related tasks together.
It’s the Work, Not Them
If the issue is someone’s work and not their behavior, be sure to frame your language in a way that indicates that. Avoid using words that reflect on them, and use ones that instead reflect on the work at hand. If you don’t like a design choice, make your feedback about the design itself, not about the team member’s creative skills. Separating the work from the person can prevent a person from feeling attacked and makes it much more likely that they’ll respond positively to your feedback.
You Don’t Have to Know it All
Being a leader doesn’t mean being infallible. You’ll be faced with situations that are new to you or that you’re not sure how best to solve. That’s okay. Acknowledging that you don’t have all of the answers can actually create more loyalty and trust among your team. It shows your willingness to collaborate with others to find the answers – and it gives both you and your team the opportunity to extend your skills.
Giving feedback is a vital part of being a leader. How you deliver that feedback will shape how your team improves, and how you’re seen as a leader.