HR Trends

How a real leader gives real feedback

Sander Decuyper

Marketing & Communication Manager at intuo

It’s a beautiful Monday afternoon, and you are thinking about going for a run when you get home. After all, some sun would be perfect for your vitamin D levels! Five minutes later your team leader walks in: “I really need you to create a report on our latest marketing activities, I need to present it tomorrow”. Since running and creating reports are hard to combine, you decide to give it your all to crunch those marketing numbers, and conclude what campaigns worked and which didn’t. You’re more than happy with the result and send your slide-deck to your boss at ten past eleven. Your team leader reads your mail first thing in the morning and replies:

Thanks for the help with the presentation, keep up the good work!

Missed opportunity

So your team leader thanked you. But, he missed out on an opportunity to help you grow. If you think about it, you could even call it selfish, since he is only communicating with his own goal in mind. Here’s the alternative email reply:

“Thanks! I really appreciate that you completed this task in such a short period! Looks like you have put a lot of detail into this. It will help the team and me a lot during the meeting this afternoon. What is your reasoning behind excluding a high-level social media overview? If we get our budget, it’s yours to delegate. We will boost those lead conversions!”

Let’s dissect this reply

This reply is an example of good informal feedback. It ticks the following boxes, in chronological order:

  • It reinforces good behaviour
  • It gives a description of the situation
  • It includes the observation
  • It gives an open question to reflect
  • It has a takeaway
  • It is linked to a goal

The importance of effective and continuous feedback

Creating a culture of feedback and recognition is one of the most effective means to drive performance, continuous improvement, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. In the new world of work, it is crucial to fill the feedback gap as much as possible. Looking at the results below, you‘ll notice that the impact of frequent feedback is significant.

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Balancing between feedback and praise

Giving feedback or praise to employees and colleagues is not something you learn by solely following the training, but by understanding the basics and applying it in your day-to-day activities. In a first step, it is crucial to shift the leadership and managers mindset to use feedback as a tool for growth, not for control. It is the responsibility of team leaders to train their teams how to give good feedback and how praise and constructive feedback should be balanced. Too much feedback can cause unwanted pressure, while too much praise can be misleading, a false representation of the reality.

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Become awesome at giving feedback

So giving and receiving effective feedback is crucial in developing a mindset of growth. It motivates to keep on doing the good things and work on the not-so-good things. But only when done correctly, as mentioned before. To become a feedback master, you can take the following steps:

    • Train yourself and managers to find the good in what their employees are doing. Effort can be more important than the result.
    • Be specific. Avoid confusion and time-consuming explanations afterwards.
    • Ask for, and express the impact on the individual, team or business and state what needs to be changed or maintained.
    • Keep supporting a culture of giving and receiving. Give praise to the people who add to this culture. (how meta!)
    • Get involved with a coach or mentor.
    • Practice, practice, practice. Doing is learning!

Increasing your odds to creating a successful culture of feedback and recognition

To create a culture that supports effective and continuous feedback, leadership should embrace this kind of behaviour. It is important that these are organisational expectations and that they are communicated as such. Feedback should be incorporated into every aspect of how the company works, it should be a given. Expressing good feedback can be difficult and many tend to avoid it because of it. However, through training, practice, and promoting positive feedback, that fear can be overcome. Feel free to contact us if you want to know more about implementing a culture of feedback in your organisation.