How to Effectively Give Feedback
In her Harvard Business Review article titled “Instant Feedback Hurts Our Performance,” Nicole Torres describes a study regarding the effect receiving instant feedback had on the performance of drivers. Interestingly, drivers scored 13.3 percent lower than they initially did when they got behind the wheel immediately after reviewing their feedback. The reasons for this finding aren’t completely verified and will require further study. However, the researchers believe that the drivers who scored higher than their goal may have relaxed and not worked as hard the second time around, while those who scored lower may have considered their goal unattainable and consequently given up. In both cases, it led to lower performance.
What are the implications for managers?
If this study is a true indicator of human psychology and behavior, it would indicate that managers should give a lot of thought to providing instant feedback to their employees. Evidently, it can be both highly demotivating, regardless of whether the employee performed well or not.
But since the goal is to coach employees to consistently perform better in their jobs, how can you effectively give feedback?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. One strategy could be to allow some time to pass before giving feedback and asking the employee to perform the same type of task — although this may not be realistic in the workplace.
At the same time, as Karlyn Borysenko points out in her Forbes article “Why Giving Feedback At Work Doesn’t Improve Performance, And What You Can Do About It,” you can cushion negative feedback in positive feedback. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need five bits of positive feedback to counterbalance one bit of negative feedback! And this strategy doesn’t address the immediate impact of receiving positive performance feedback.
Another strategy can be to review employees’ performance together with the employee in question, using their historic performance, other people’s performance, and/or project goals as benchmarks. By directly involving your employees in the review process, they have the opportunity to see what they did well and where they were lacking. They can also draw their own conclusions about their performance — plus, they can discuss with you how they can improve for the next time.
Develop a personalized method of delivering feedback
Providing feedback to employees is an essential aspect of every manager’s job — and knowing how to do so is critical to your team’s success, as well as your own. So, spend some time considering how your individual employees digest information, and develop a personalized method of delivering to praise or constructive criticism to each one.