Module 8: Providing Feedback

Module Eight: Providing Feedback

In the last module, we discussed the importance of establishing trust and its relation to the coaching process. Although building trust is a personal investment you must make, you are still required to provide both negative and positive feedback.

Understanding how to structure feedback is essential in balancing trust with the need to discuss desired and undesired behaviors with your employee. In this module, you are going to learn techniques for delivering feedback well. Let us begin.

The Feedback Sandwich

Initiating the feedback process could be a stressful situation if done incorrectly. However, as managers, we have to make tough discussions with our employees. In the world of giving feedback, time is the essence. You want to be comfortable when giving feedback. When you are comfortable, your employee will be comfortable.

The Feedback Sandwich is a method of introducing feedback to your employee surrounded by praise. It starts the conversation by briefly reviewing a positive aspect your employee is currently demonstrating. It could be a good attitude; a well-executed sales pitch, etc. Be careful not to spend too much time praising at the beginning, because your “meat” of feedback message will be diluted. Remember, the reason why you are speaking to your employee at this time is to deliver feedback.

Next, deliver the opportunity for growth in a positive tone. Avoid accusing your employee, but remain focused on the message you must deliver. In the next lesson, we will discuss how to structure constructive criticism. For now, remember this is the largest part of your dialogue.

Finally, close the feedback session on a positive note. Praise the employee on a strength they have or tell them you are confident they are going to adjust and be successful. This helps the employee overcome the embarrassment that is associated with receiving feedback.

To review, you want to structure your feedback sandwich by starting with Praise, then delivering the opportunity for growth and closing with praise again. This is easy to remember if you recall the acronym POP.

Here is a sample delivery:

Praise: John, your sales attempts this month are doing well because you are asking good probing questions up front and I appreciate your work.

Opportunity for growth: Here is something I noticed. When a customer says, “No” to your attempt, you immediately stop selling and abandon the sales attempt. This is where you should use more questions. As a result, your sales percentage is one of the lowest on the team.

Praise: I know you are capable of asking more questions because you build good rapport with our customers.

Providing Constructive Criticism

Providing constructive criticism is a skill that requires you to focus on four key areas.

First, focus on one issue at a time. Avoid addressing multiple issues. This will only cause confusion and frustration. Identify the issue and set plan on how you are going to address this.

Second, focus on being timely. Once you identify an issue, make sure you do not wait too long to deliver the critique. The more time passes the less effective it will be. Your employee may even forget what they did.

Third and most importantly, focus on observable actions or behaviors. Avoid generalities. For example, do not say, “You have an issue with time management.” This statement is lacking an observable action or behavior. Instead, you might want to say, “I notice you spend extra time talking to other employees on your way to meetings, making you late to most of them.” The observable behavior is “talking to other employees.” With this behavior identified, you are now able to focus on the next point.

Fourth, focus on a plan to change the behavior. Depending on the extent of change that must happen, your plan may be a simple adjustment. However, if it is complex, then use your SMART goal writing technique to help your employee set successful goals.

Now let us learn how to encourage growth and development.

Encouraging Growth and Development

Encouraging growth and development is really providing opportunities to learn. When we give opportunities to our employees, we send the message that we value them and are willing to invest time, effort, and sometimes money into their development.

As managers, we should foster an environment of learning. Here are some ways you are able to provide learning opportunities for your employees:

  • Develop a peer mentorship process
  • Use your internal training department
  • Send your employee on lend to another department to learn something new
  • Start a book of the month club where your employees read, on company time, a few pages at a time
  • Use your team meeting as a venue for team learning
  • Send your employees to seminars if your budget allows

A good approach is to create a menu of opportunities for your employees to learn. Remember that learning styles vary among adults. Therefore, try different approaches.

Case Study

Mary was a good coach, but she found it difficult to give feedback when an employee’s work was less than expected or they didn’t reach the goals that were set. Mary knew that when she needed to mention something for the employee to work on, it was often a good idea to let them know of the areas they have improved on or excel at. When constructive criticism has to be given, Mary remembers to always weigh the good with the bad to ensure that the employee understands their value and is more receptive to the negative aspects of the criticism.