The Strategist

Giving feedback the right way

03/15/2019 - 14:08

Pointing at people’s mistakes is unpleasant, but important. Feedback is necessary for personal growth, and if a colleague, employee or partner does not cope with their job, you need to tell him about it. The problem is that a harsh feedback can offend and discourage the employee. On the other hand, the right approach can inspire, direct and bring the person to a new level. Do, how to criticize to increase motivation?

Right criticism focuses on what has already been done and can be done, and does not interpret poorly done work as a character trait of a particular person. Here are a few steps to help formulate the right feedback.

1. Specify the problem.

For example, select an indicative fact or event to illustrate a problem that needs to be solved, or a lack of, say, inability to perform certain parts of a task well. Remember that people are discouraged if they simply hear that “something” is doing poorly, not understanding what exactly is wrong. So they do not know what to do next. You need to focus on the details, highlighting what the employee has done well and what is bad and what can be corrected. Just do not beat around the bush or resort to evasive remarks, because you will only confuse everyone. Always be accurate and clear in stating what, in fact, is the problem, what is going wrong, what feelings it causes and what can be changed.
2. Express a desire to help.

No need to prove that the person was wrong. Feedback is designed to increase motivation, not eliminated it, as well as provide opportunities for change. Preparing for a conversation, think about what you want to achieve and how to approach the employee.

3. Be open.

This is necessary to establish a positive relationship that promotes change. If you enter into a conversation with a feeling of discomfort and the need for self-defense, the interlocutor adjusts to your mood, and the conversation will end in mutual discontent.

4. Suggest a solution.

Critical feedback, like any useful feedback, should indicate a solution to the problem. Otherwise, it demoralizes or deprives of motivation. Criticism may open up existing opportunities and alternatives that the person himself was not aware of, or simply open his eyes to the shortcomings that need attention, but it should include suggestions for how to tackle these problems.

5. Involve the person in solving the problem.

For example, you can ask: “What do you propose?”, “What conclusion did you make from our conversation?”, “What are you going to undertake, when and how will you let me know?”.

6. Be understanding.

Your words and how you express them will have a definite impact on a person. Leaders who lack empathy are more inclined to “give out” feedback in an offensive manner, such as a derogatory, rude comment. The end result is destructive: instead of opening the way to correction, it causes a negative emotional reaction in the form of resentment, bitterness, defensive behavior and coldness.

And do not forget to praise

Stanford University professor Carol Dweck notes that we instinctively tell people what they are doing wrong, but we rarely notice the right actions. Moreover, when people are in high spirits due to recognition of their merits, they work much better and even do something beyond their official duties.

One of the most powerful ways to improve quality of work is to sincerely and often praise your colleagues.
The secret is that criticism switches the brain to negative, while praise fixes it on positive behavior. We repeat exactly what we are focused on, so if you pay more attention to the good, then there will be more good actions.

For the same reason, most achievement evaluation technologies actually reduce results. Too often, managers first identify weaknesses of an employee, and only then pay attention to his positive aspects. In this case, the employee’s brain tells him that the management is not interested in strengths, but only in its weaknesses; not in his professional growth, but disadvantages. Thus, he understands that his positive behavior does not matter. 

Big potential

All this does not mean that managers should not give honest feedback or indicate areas of development and growth. When talking about weaknesses and problems, you need to be realistic. But we must also be aware: praise provides access to energy, strength and the desire to do more. That it is the fuel for development and growth.

Based on “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

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