When it comes to researching workplace best practices, one theme that continuously tops our list is clear communication. At face value, communication in the office sounds simple. Coworkers chat day in and day out, ping one and other on Slack, send emails back and forth, so what’s the big deal? Communicating at work is easy! Not so fast. When it comes to navigating interpersonal expectations, managerial preferences, and giving performance reviews, it can be challenging to find an approachable of delivering feedback that doesn’t sound critical or nit-picky. The good news is, according to a 2016 report by Gallup, “Millennials [today] want managers to find ways to invest in their futures, hone their skills and coach them to become the best workers they can be.” Meaning, modern employees are open and actively looking for feedback. Jobs today no longer mean clocking in and out and collecting a paycheck every two weeks. Rather, they’re an opportunity to learn a new skill and become stronger in one way or another. Now that’s a goal we can support!
To get to the bottom of how seasoned managers have continuously built great teams, we connected with leaders across departments to collect advice on delivering feedback effectively. If you’re aiming to build employee engagement, encourage high performance, and increase retention, continue reading for 5 tips to get you started, and implement them in your next 1:1. Afterall, feedback is the “key to millennial career happiness.”
#1. Be positive
Often time people think that feedback means a serious discussion with repercussions or demands. While this may be true sometimes, it ought not dictate the nature of your meeting. When giving anyone feedback, picture yourself in the recipients’ shoes: If your manager came to you with a positive tone and attitude, the recommendation that they’re making for improvement won’t sound as daunting. Giving feedback in this way will feel more like an encouraging suggestion, which we recommend.
“Hey Sam, I’d love to connect on ways that we can enhance your dialog involvement in meetings. Do you have a few moments to chat? I think we have a big opportunity for growth here.”
By framing feedback as an opportunity, you make the suggestion more approachable. Give it a try.
#2. Give a concrete example
When giving feedback on a work behavior that could use improvement, give an example of the habit that needs to be modified. For example, if you’re asking a coworker to stop interrupting in meetings, give an example of a time when you or a peer had been impacted by that behavior. It will give them something specific to reference, and resonate more deeply as they move forward.
“Hey Sam, I was hoping we could chat about a meeting habit of yours that I’ve noticed lately. It seems to be recurring that you interrupt others in our meetings. While we’re all excited that you have information to share, it can be upsetting to your peers. Last week, Ben felt that he didn’t have a long enough opportunity to share his research with group, and I know he was really looking forward to that before you jumped in with your findings. Do you think you could pay greater attention to this in the future?”
#3. Lead with advice
After you’ve provided an example of the behavior that can be improved, make a suggestion. Having a recommendation to guide your peer with will make the feedback more digestible and give them something to run with.
“One thing that I’ve found helps me in meetings is to slightly raise my hand when I have a question or comment to make before jumping in. I know it may look silly or like we’re in a classroom, but I know that the person with the floor appreciates it. Once I have the green light, I feel more comfortable elaborating from there when I’ve received confirmation that the speaker is finished.”
#4. Be transparent
One thing about feedback is that it exists to serve a purpose. When you’re giving feedback, be clear and concise. When we feel anxious weighing in on the behavior of another, we can often talk in circles in hopes of softening our delivery. No need to do that! Be clear, concise and share the reason as to why you’re giving said feedback.
“The reason I’m sharing this feedback with you is because I want to nurture our culture of respect and collaboration at our company. I think you making this small adjustment will play a critical role in our prioritization of that goal.”
#5. Follow up
When you deliver feedback, be sure to close the loop on your ask. While it may feel awkward at first to bring up a topic not once but twice, it actually gives the recipient closure and ownership of making adjustments. By following up, you signal to your peer that you take the suggestion seriously. During this initial discussion, mention that you’ll be touching base in a few days/weeks to check in on their progress. Doing so will demonstrate that you take your ask seriously and want to see changes being made.
“Thanks for taking the time to chat. I will touch base in a week or two to see how the hand-raising tactic is working for you and if you want to strategize any other methods for participating in great meetings.”
As we quickly approach fall, take this opportunity to optimize your team’s work performance with the change of the leaves – share these five tips and let them be known! We can’t wait to hear how you’re team flourishes with your guidance.