Giving effective feedback is a basic managerial skill that some people may find difficult to master. Giving feedback, and particularly critical feedback, can be very difficult for both parties. However, under extraordinary circumstances, such as the coronavirus outbreak, good communication becomes even more important than usual.
Misunderstandings, lack of clarity and mismatches in communication styles are some of the difficulties that managers and business owners face when they give feedback. Avoid these common pitfalls using the following strategies to give feedback in a way that is smart, productive and professional.
Use the “Sandwich Method” to Give Effective Feedback
Do you have to deliver feedback that may be unpalatable to the other person? Use the sandwich method. This communication strategy consists in opening with a positive remark, following with the behavior that needs improvement, and closing on a positive note again. This method is effective because people find it easier to change if they feel that their contribution is appreciated and that their mistakes are seen in the context of an overall positive performance.
There’s no room for vagueness when you give feedback. Be as specific as you can and outline clearly both the behavior to improve and the ways to achieve that improvement. Consider these examples:
- “Your reports could be more concise; try using bullet points”
- “This is the second time you forget an appointment. You can try using an app or an online calendar”
- “The project wasn’t ready on time. Going forward, let’s review together your workload at the beginning of a project.
Use the Appropriate Communication Style
Adjust your feedback strategy according to the other person’s communication style. For example, if you are mild-mannered and the other person is assertive, you’ll have to make an extra effort to convey the seriousness of the issue at hand. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of being ignored. On the other hand, if you are assertive and outgoing but the other person is introverted, your feedback may cause them to feel overwhelmed or overburdened.
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