What's most important about feedback isn't the moment itself, but how it's provided. Many companies use "performance management" meetings once a year to judge people. These meetings are "performance based," and they create an environment where employees feel judged, not recognized. Feedback that is meaningful and contextual is more effective.
Meaningful feedback is created when a manager engages with employees at a personal level, and that engagement leads to meaningful conversations. But meaningful conversation isn't easy, especially if managers aren't used to it.
Here are some tips for making meaningful conversations a part of your everyday work.
- Ask for feedback. A simple, "What do you think?" or "What's going well?" can prompt meaningful conversation.
- When giving feedback, avoid phrases like "How's it going?" or "How's work going?" These phrases don't foster engagement, and they don't give people a chance to share insights into what's going on.
- Ask for different opinions: Feedback is contextual. By asking your employees for feedback, you're giving yourself the opportunity to incorporate different perspectives into your work.
- Be specific. You can't ask your employees, "How's it going?" and then give them a one-word answer such as "great." Try, "Is there anything that could be better?"
- Be quick to act. Make sure you act on the agreements you've reached with your team. Any feedback, no matter how great it sounds on paper, is only as good as the things you set in motion from it.
- What is one thing I can do to make your life better at work?
- What activities at work give you energy these days?
- Would you like more or less feedback on your work? If so, what additional feedback would you like?
- What activities would you consider are not a good use of your time?
- Is there anything else you'd like to mention? If so, please write it down.
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