One of the most challenging parts of becoming a manager is learning how to provide meaningful feedback. Many managers fear giving the wrong feedback, and thus potentially upsetting their employees. Yet these same managers know, without feedback the growth and engagement of employees will suffer.
Without feedback the growth and engagement of employees will suffer.
To add more pressure, employees want feedback. They want to know how they’re performing, and what their strengths and areas for growth are. Without feedback employees won’t know if they’re a star performer or at risk of being let go, and will continually question their position. They’ll wear themselves out in the process too and after enough time, they’ll leave.
It’s a vicious cycle. One which can be prevented by providing meaningful feedback.
One way to provide meaningful feedback is to look past an employee’s areas for growth, and see what strengths may be contributing to the their struggles. For example, you may recognize an employee is too controlling, often overstepping their bounds, and upsetting others. Look past this, and seek to understand what strengths may be causing this behavior. It may turn out the employee is actually a team player, looking to do what’s best for the organization, and rather than pushing more work onto their co-workers, they’re trying to make everyone’s jobs easier.
From here you can provide feedback in the context of an employee’s strengths. To be clear, you’re not providing a “shit sandwich.” You’re providing the complete story, the good with the bad. With this context it’s easier to identify how to improve, and which strengths to keep in mind during the process. Our struggles are often a result of our strengths, and need to be considered when seeking improvement.
Our struggles are often a result of our strengths, and need to be considered when seeking improvement.
That said, providing feedback to employees will still be difficult and unconformable. That’s okay. It’s within these areas of discomfort the largest potential for growth and engagement exist. Embrace the discomfort and, to the best of your ability, walk towards it.
As a manager, use feedback to actively engage your team and build trust. Do so by understanding how an employee’s strengths may be contributing to their areas for growth and by welcoming the difficult and uncomfortable conversations. You and your team will be all the better in the process.
Are you a manager? Looking to actively engage with your employees?
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