Giving Effective Feedback
Feedback has long been recognised as a powerful tool for leaders to influence followers and their performance. It provides a mechanism to correct immediate shortfalls in behaviour, mid-term performance and long term development. Its strength as a tool comes from its simplicity, effectiveness and its inherent flexibility. It has become an integral part of developing effective followers and forms a critical component of most modern performance management systems utilised by organisations and small businesses. Giving effective feedback is essential to being a good leader.
 Effective Feedback
Giving effective feedback has become one of the most important person-to-person communication skills for leaders and managers. It is also one of the most challenging and rewarding. The importance of leader-to-follower feedback on performance cannot be understated. Effective feedback leads to increased performance, stronger leader-follower relationships and other positive workplace outcomes for the recipient of the feedback, their leadership and the organization.
 Why feedback is important
Feedback allows individuals, groups, organisations, and leaders to improve performance. It is a central component and contributor to the relationship between leaders and group members. It can also foster the growth of trust, enhance performance and develop personnel contributing to an organisations bottom line. Feedback is important to almost every aspect of team and organisational leadership.
Feedback provides leaders with one of the most critical leadership functions, the ability to correct competency and reward job performance and work related behaviour. Feedback provides leaders with a practical, easy to utilise method, which consumes low resources, to correct and reward job performance, especially competency. Rewarding and correcting job competency is a key leadership function. Feedback also contributes to correcting and rewarding work related behaviour, both positive and negative. In the contemporary period of greater awareness of the importance of positive workplace behaviour, feedback provides an essential tool for leaders to influence the behaviour of their followers.
 Effective Feedback Principles
Effective feedback can be delivered to followers in a variety of different fashions depending on the context. Reflecting the inherent flexibility of feedback, the effective feedback principles below aim to guide feedback delivery, rather than stipulate the best method for all situations. The Teres Development Effective Feedback Principles:
 Provide it regularly.
Feedback is best given fresh. Waiting extended periods of time to give feedback has been shown to decrease its effectiveness. Leaders should look to give feedback on performance to followers at regular intervals over short spaced periods. Giving regular feedback provides followers with an understanding of how they are performing and an opportunity to immediate develop any shortfalls in their performance or the necessary information to continue to deliver positive results.
 Be specific, use examples and storytelling.
Use evidence and observations to clearly communicate your specific observations and follower behaviour. It allows followers to clearly identify and understand their feedback and enhances its effectiveness.
 Correct negative behaviour on occurrence
Do not wait too long to address negative behaviour by followers. Ensure you keep your HR team informed of their action and the feedback you gave. Be generous with positive feedback. Positive feedback motivates performance and is easier for leaders to deliver than negative feedback. It’s a great source of motivation. Use positive feedback to note improvements and effort in followers.
 Keep accurate records.
Enable your performance management process by keeping accurate and appropriate record of all feedback you have given. Utilise an appropriate, searchable and easy to utilise system you are happy with.
 Communicate your feedback clearly.
Leave no room for misinterpretation by followers. Clearly articulate what was positive and what was negative. Don’t skip over positive feedback to focus your attention on performance or behavioural improvements.
 Develop a culture open to feedback.
Develop followers to view feedback as an opportunity for development and growth. Work with them to see it as a positive experience rather than a negative one. Be honest. Accuracy is essential for effective feedback. Nobody benefits if you don’t provide honest, accurate and complete feedback. Effective feedback needs to cover both the positive and the negative.
 Future oriented.
Effective feedback needs to balance itself between focusing on the observation and how to improve future performance. Focusing on ‘what to improve next time’ rather than poor performance decreases followers negative responses to poor performance feedback.
 Link to goal achievement.
Linking feedback to goal achievement targets intrinsic motivators for followers and establishes consequences context for poor performance. Discuss their future goals and aspirations during the feedback progress to motivate their performance.
 Identify the need to commit to an action plan.
Feedback alone will not address all problems with followers. In some cases, leaders will need to have followers commit to an action plan to address performance shortfalls or behavioural problems.
 Conduct it in an appropriate location.
Feedback should be given in an appropriate location chosen by the leader. In some circumstances, such as when the feedback is negative, it should occur in private. In others, such as when the feedback is positive, it may be appropriate to do it in public. Download our Introduction to giving feedback guide
For further information, techniques and tips download our introduction to giving feedback guide on our Leadership Development Resources page.
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- Employee Training
- Executive Evaluation - Nonprofit Organizations
- How to be a Mentor
- Right person for the right job
The author of this page is Rohan Davies
Rohan Davies is the Co-Founder of Teres Development and a leadership development expert. He is a consultant working with both business and private clients to prepare, develop and support leaders in the contemporary business environment.