By Elyse Jarard, Faculty, Chief Mindset Strategist
Feedback has been something I abhor, in any form, unless it is absolutely positive. I know this is unhealthy, but I also know that I'm not alone. Work experiences in the past have given me much joy, but also much angst in part because feedback was never given well.
This seems to be one of the hardest things to figure out for managers (including myself), AND it can transform a workplace, relationship, and engagement depending on how good you are at it.
A recent Gallup poll found that only 10.4% of employees who received negative feedback from their manager are engaged and 4 out of 5 of those say they are actively looking for other employment.
Even in relationships, regardless of whether they are personal or professional, giving feedback can cause tension or create trust, so learning HOW to communicate unmet expectations are important bridge-building skills for anyone, especially leaders.
It is critical to understand that most people hate the slightest hint of negative feedback for two reasons:
1) they may have been bullied as a kid, so when they get negative feedback their brains amplify the message. You say, "I'd like to see you do better at ..." and they hear "You are such a f-up! You are a lazy, good-for-nothing!" This is a basic neurological response for many people who have a negative inner voice (which affects more people than you can imagine).
2) they think they are doing a great job, so getting negative feedback deflates their sails. This is usually a symptom of unclear expectations (which is the supervisor's job to set with the employee).
It is also essential to understand HOW to give good feedback so everyone continues to be engaged. When feedback comes in the form of coaching, it can be transformative for everyone.
Here are 5 ways to change feedback into a positive experience.
This may seem like a daunting task when you manage a lot of people, however it will pay off, so make the time to connect weekly.
Annual and semi-annual reviews should be focused on "big picture" goals (personal and professional), professional development opportunities, and a conversation on opportunities to be better, not because there is a deficit, but because that is a value you share. Ask if you can help them stay accountable to their goals through the year.
When feedback feels more like coaching, everyone benefits and life at work is a lot more pleasant.