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Performance Management

Giving Managers Feedback on Feedback

Feedback is a crucial part of employee growth. Dishing it out is not always easy for leaders but here’s how CLOs can help.

Giving people feedback is essential for growth. It’s also what many workers want. According to a survey from Officevibe, a company that provides employee engagement software, 83 percent of employees appreciate both positive and negative feedback.

Though employees crave feedback it’s not always an easy task for leaders to deliver it. And as more organizations move away from annual performance reviews to more frequent coaching sessions, this puts even more pressure on managers to get it right. This is where CLOs can step in and help leaders give more effective and engaging feedback.

Leaders fail to focus on workers’ individual needs and are often bad at being honest and candid, said Andee Harris, chief engagement officer at HighGround, an employee engagement and performance management software company, instead doing “drive-by check-ins.”

Ted Power, chief compliance officer at iCoachFirst, a provider of performance management services, said leaders should focus on simple steps to give better feedback versus trying to do everything at once.

“Step one is you’re just going to say that people need to give each other more feedback,” Power said. “And, along with making that statement, you provide some very easy training and tips that people can actually use, rather than dragging them through a day-long class on how to give feedback.”

Tips include things like being more aware of body language and using eye contact. Lack of eye contact, being on your phone or crossing your arms can give the impression that you’re uninterested or even ready for battle, Power said.

It’s also important to use a company’s already established competencies and goals as a basis for feedback. CLOs can make sure feedback conversations are centered around company goals.

“Often when you have an organization where they don’t have agile goals people are like, ‘Well, it’s harder to give people feedback,’ and it’s because you don’t really know what you’re measuring them on,”Harris said.

Harris also said it’s important for companies to have a template they follow when giving feedback. This step is especially helpful for leaders who might otherwise feel lost or distracted when giving feedback. She uses a Start, Stop, Continue template that asks three questions:

  • What should you start doing?
  • What should you stop doing?
  • What should you continue doing?

“That’s a really good format for helping people have those conversations,” Harris said. “If you don’t have a template to have those conversations it can be a little bit all over the place.”

Though a set template is useful there should also be room for employees to respond. Whether that’s asking them to brainstorm ideas with leaders or come up with ideas on their own and regroup, Power said it’s important for employees to be heard in these sessions.

While it’s crucial that CLOs help leaders give better feedback, Harris also said they should look at the results of the feedback to use it for training opportunities and professional development.

“If some of the feedback is that this person needs to receive some coaching around giving presentations, well that ties into looking at what types of professional development opportunities there are around speaking and presentations,” Harris said.

This is especially relevant as managers continue to have feedback sessions more frequently rather than focusing on an annual performance review. It’s important that employees are given feedback in real time so they can either continue on their path or course correct, Power said.

Rather than having set dates for feedback, leaders should choose meaningful times such as at critical points throughout a project.

“When you’re watching a sporting event, the coach doesn’t wait until the end of the game to tell the players what to do. They’re constantly coaching them throughout the game,” Harris said. “If there’s things they should be doing and you’re watching in that moment things they should be doing better, then it seems silly to wait because it’s not the set time to give feedback.”

Marygrace Schumann is an editorial intern at Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.

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