Written by: Debbie Ristimaki, Founder, Engaging Awareness

So you have gotten to the point when you realize that you can’t do it all.

You now find yourself having to delegate tasks and responsibilities to others and with that comes the need for feedback. So where to begin?

Well, it may surprise you to hear but feedback actually begins with you as the manager.  That’s right – you!

You may need to have a conversation about the employee’s performance. However, in order for the feedback to be of value, that employee needs to be able to make the connection to their actions and results and that means looking at what was delegated and whether it was it done “S.M.A.R.T.ly”.

In other words, did they have a clear understating of what they needed to accomplish, by when and what did the outcome need to look like?

For those not familiar with the acronym, it stands for:

Specific – Was the task clearly defined? Include the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ if necessary.
Measurable – What is the measure of completion? What does success look like?
Achievable – Simply put, can it be done within the scope outlined?
Realistic – Does the employee have the ability and resources to complete it?
Timely – By when must it be done? Are there check-in points along the way?

With the above in mind, some tips on giving feedback:

What to Do

  • Provide it regularly.
  • Consider both positive and constructive feedback. Recognize what is being done well along with what needs to change or be improved upon.
  • Connect the action to the outcome AND be clear as to the desired outcome.
  • Be clear as to whether you need the employee to make a change immediately or is it something that can be developed over time.
  • Choose the ‘when’ and the ‘where’. Feedback is more meaningful if it is provided sooner rather than later as you want the employee to recall the situation. As for the ‘where’, keep in mind that it is also personal, it is about the individual. It may not be appropriate to have the conversation in front of others. Note that there may be exceptions, particularly in the case of positive feedback however you should still keep the employee’s preference in mind. They may not appreciate public acknowledgements. My advice – ask first!
  • Be mindful of emotions – both yours and those of your employee.
  • Keep it respectful.

What to Avoid

  • Generalities. Expressions such as ‘good job’, ‘do better, more, faster’ are of little value.
  • Go back to the S.M.A.R.T. approach. What specifically did the individual do/not do?  How much more needs to be done?
  • Don’t make it personal. The feedback is about a situation and not about the individual.
  • The sandwich approach. Don’t deliver the constructive feedback in between the positives. That approach dilutes the message and devalues the process.
  • The word ‘but,’ especially when giving positive feedback.  As soon as your employee hears it, they know that there is something coming that they may not like or be happy with.
  • Keep in mind that there is both an art and a science to giving feedback. Just as your employee may need time to develop a skill set, so too, do you. Give yourself permission to learn, to practice and to grow.

Effective feedback will ensure that both you and your employee are on the same path moving forward.

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