In many organisations, a professional HR function has regulated the process of one-to-one meetings between managers and team members.
This means that something which should be about meaningful dialogue, and an opportunity both to listen and to coach, can become a scheduled ‘chore’ in the calendar. Instead of honest communication and the building of a trusting relationship, timely completion has become the common aim.
Familiar? Then take a step back.
The aim of giving constructive feedback
So, why would you want or need to give feedback to a team member? Chances are, it is for meaningful reasons. Perhaps to help them learn and grow, or develop new understanding, or get a better, clearer view of expectations and performance. It might even be in order to gain an understanding of why an aspect of their behaviour or performance might need to change.
Does that sound like admin to you? I hope not. The key word here isn’t ‘feedback’ or ‘meeting’, but ‘constructive’. In other words, something that helps to build and develop something rather than diminish it or knock it down.
Start with the end in mind. How do you want them to feel when the meeting is over? What do you want to happen afterwards? What do you want them to do with the feedback?
Setting effective team objectives
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Working backwards from the end goal
Once you’ve got that straight, then work backwards. What feedback is most likely to deliver these outcomes? Consider what language might generate the right response, and what situation or location might enable the right atmosphere.
Come up with answers to potential responses, and plan how you will handle the reactions or comments of your team member.
As with so much of leadership, the secret lies in giving it the right amount of thought, and in sufficient depth to be well prepared with a plan.
Giving constructive feedback to employees is so much easier if you already have an effective, trusting, open and honest relationship. Time spent building that every week will make the art of feedback and even ‘difficult conversations’ far easier, and much more likely to yield positive results.
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