You cannot guide and improve the performance of others unless you have the ability to give effective feedback. As a senior leader’s ability to perform is based on the performance of others, giving feedback is a key determinant of a leaders ability to succeed.
It is amazing then that so many senior leaders are poor at giving feedback. Many will work around poor performers putting feedback in the too hard basket. Others take a one-size fits all approach to every scenario “I give it to them between the eyes every time to make sure they understand where they are failing.”
There are four rules to giving feedback
1. Do it. Do not put it off; do not leave it. If someone is unaware about the detrimental impact of their performance or behaviour they need to know about it and they need to understand the ramifications. The longer you leave it the harder it gets for both parties.
2. Be crystal clear. Ambiguity destroys the impact of feedback. Either the feedback will have no effect or it will have the wrong effect.
3. Tailor your delivery. As an absolute last resort it may be appropriate to “give it to them between the yes,” however this is incredibly rare. Positioning feedback in a way that the recipient will be pleased, even relieved to have had the conversation will get better results.
4. Agree a way forward. Always give the recipient a way forward, or work with them to agree a way forward. Let them know what your role will be in both helping and monitoring them.
Remember, by giving someone feedback you are doing them a favour. Give feedback in a way that will help others to be grateful for your effort; maybe one day your favour will be returned.