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How Good Is Your Feedback?
Giving Clear Comments to Improve Performance
As a manager, one of the most important things you do is give feedback. When you let people know how they're doing, you give them the chance to change unhelpful habits, and you reward and cement positive behavior.
So, why do managers find it so difficult to give feedback? Perhaps it's because they're uncomfortable doing it, or because they don't feel that they have the skills to do it properly. Either way, they may put off giving feedback until a problem has become serious.
Use this quiz to find out how well you give feedback, and to discover how you can give better feedback in the future.
How Good Is Your Feedback?
Evaluate each statement as you actually are, rather than as you think you should be. When you've finished, click "Calculate My Total" to add up your score, and use the information below to help improve your feedback skills.
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15 Statements to Answer
|Not at All||Rarely||Sometimes||Often||Very Often|
|1 When I give feedback, I listen to what my team member says, and try to understand his or her perspective and feelings.|
|2 I refer my team to our mission and vision statements, and let senior executives explain the company's overall direction and strategy. They do a much better job than I could.|
|3 I familiarize myself with people's job descriptions, performance agreements, and performance reviews to prepare for feedback sessions.|
|4 After I've given feedback, I leave people to make changes as they see fit.|
|5 I make sure that my team members know how their jobs add value to the organization.|
|6 I refer to specific incidents instead of generalizations when I give feedback.|
|7 I follow up on the feedback that I provide.|
|8 I use statements that help people understand the impact of their behavior.|
|9 I know what my team members are working on, and I visit their workspaces often.|
|10 I give feedback that focuses on what people need to improve or change.|
|11 I give feedback based primarily on my observations and feelings, and I don't gather other opinions or facts.|
|12 I talk to the person directly, remain calm, explain how I feel, and say what needs to change.|
|13 I assess my team members' individual developmental needs.|
|14 I help my team members set clear objectives.|
|15 I measure performance improvement with specific metrics.|
Your feedback is not always clear, which means that people may not act on it. They may not understand what they need to change, or why.
When you give feedback, prepare for the session carefully, and comment clearly on recent situations where a behavior or action has had a negative impact. State your case assertively, and outline the consequences of not acting on the feedback. (See below for a more detailed analysis.)
Sometimes people heed your feedback, but others may question it or follow it inconsistently. Use the Situation – Behavior – Impact Tool to give structured feedback, and suggest that your team member uses the Feedback Matrix to reflect on your comments.
People listen to your feedback, and act on it. They value your comments because they know that you've taken time to think about them. Your team members act on your comments, and grow personally and professionally as a result. (See below for a more detailed analysis.)
Preparing to Give Feedback
(Questions 3, 9, 11)Your score is 0 out of 0
Before you give feedback to one of your team members, make sure that you understand the situation fully. Read their job description and objectives, and also look at past performance reviews to see what comments have already been made.
Also, write regular performance notes to refresh your memory before a feedback session, and include positive events, as well as opportunities for improvement.
Finally, gather information from a variety of sources, so that your feedback is as objective as possible. Some organizations use 360-Degree Feedback to get input from everyone who works with the person. Or, you can simply gather comments from other managers whose work is affected.
Structuring Feedback, and Balancing Negative Feedback With Positive Interactions
(Questions 8, 10, 12)Your score is 0 out of 0
It's important to structure feedback effectively, so that people understand the impact of their actions. Use the Situation - Behavior - Impact Tool to give specific examples of behavior that needs to change.
People perform better when they have positive interactions, so structure feedback sessions in such a way that you make more positive comments than negative. Read our article on the Losada Ratio to learn more about how to balance your comments, so that people see your feedback in a positive way. (Although the statistics behind the Losada Ratio model are in doubt now, the principle is not.)
Timeliness is another important feature of feedback. Don't wait too long to tell people what you thought about their performance in a specific situation, whether positive or negative. For example, if you see someone doing a great job, give praise right away.
Using Feedback to Link Line Management With Strategic Management
(Questions 2, 5, 14)Your score is 0 out of 0
Feedback helps people understand how they contribute to organizational objectives, and how they can add value.
Use management by objectives, key performance indicators, and goal setting to link team members' work to organizational strategy. You can also use the Pyramid of Purpose and the Hoshin Planning System to explain how their work links to larger objectives.
Then, ask team members what resources they need so that they can contribute to organizational goals.
Placing Feedback in Context
(Questions 1, 6, 13)Your score is 0 out of 0
Part of the purpose of feedback is to provide opportunities for development. However, many people view feedback negatively: if they have something to improve, then they may feel that they have failed in some way.
If your team members are anxious about feedback, listen to their concerns carefully, and with empathy.
Reassure your people that giving feedback is part of your responsibility as a manager. It's your job to help your people do their best, and, as part of that, you'll regularly discuss their developmental needs. Make sure they know that this will be a collaborative process – you'll need their input so that you can help them reach their professional development goals.
Following up Feedback, and Performance Management
(Questions 4, 7, 15)Your score is 0 out of 0
Feedback is not a one-time activity – it's part of an ongoing conversation about expectations. This is particularly important when you need to see significant improvement from someone.
In this situation, think about creating performance agreements. These outline what you expect, and they set out the consequences of not delivering this. Performance agreements should not be punitive. Instead, they help people to see – and agree – what you want, and to take responsibility for delivering this.
In turn, it's your responsibility to track performance – ideally using agreed and specific metrics – and to follow up if agreed changes don't happen.
If you need to manage poor performance, look over your feedback notes to pinpoint possible problems. Have people had the right training and development? Has it been followed through? Do they have all of the resources and equipment that they need?
One of the most important aspects of your role as a manager is to give feedback that guides and motivates your team members.
Feedback is essential to your team members' personal and professional development, and you owe it to them – and your organization – to make your comments fair, regular, and timely.
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