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A First-Time Manager’s Guide To Giving Effective Feedback

Mastering the art of giving useful feedback is a crucial skill for managers. Here’s how to make it effective your first time.

A First-Time Manager’s Guide To Giving Effective Feedback
[Photo: Flickr user unclepockets]

One of the most difficult things about being a first-time manager is learning to provide effective feedback. When you’re a new manager, you become responsible for your team’s success or failure, and you need to be focused on what you can do to help each member of your team be successful in his or her role.

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Instead of viewing feedback as a negative conversation, look at it this way: Feedback can be both positive and negative, and it gives people an opportunity to grow. With these five tips, you’ll be dishing out effective feedback like a pro in no time.

1. Prepare in advance

Think about what happened, why it should be addressed, how it can be fixed moving forward, and what concrete action items and next steps can be taken. It’s helpful to address specific situations instead of general things that you’ve noticed. “If you’re going to give feedback, it is best to have some examples of what you’re referring to and your advice on how they could of done it differently,” says Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa. McGoodwin also recommends making sure that feedback is constructive—and not a complaint.

2. Set up a meeting

No one likes to be caught off guard. “I think the biggest mistake people make when giving feedback is doing it at a time that works for their schedule only,” McGoodwin says. “To give feedback so it works for both parties, I suggest you schedule specific feedback time with the other person. Let them know that that is the purpose of the meeting so they can also be prepared to receive it. No one wants to feel like they got attacked.” Arrange a time to meet in person.

3. Discuss something specific

Don’t view the meeting as an opportunity to vent. View it as a time to discuss a specific topic and help your team member improve in the future. In a Stanford Graduate School of Business article, lecturer Carole Robin discusses the importance of explaining the impact the behavior has on the company and colleagues. When doing this, she recommends using “I” language instead of “You” language to avoid making accusations. And say something when you notice it—not months later. If you wait until something snowballs into a bigger deal, it isn’t fair to your employee because they could have had months to improve and fix it had they only known there was a problem.

4. Be solution-oriented

Use the meeting as a time to come up with a solution for the future. “I love getting feedback, but I hate when people give me feedback on why they didn’t like something with no suggestion on what they would have wanted to see. Don’t leave people in the dark,” McGoodwin says. Frame the conversation as a two-way discussion, not a one-sided accusation. Listen to how they interpreted the situation and their suggestions. Show that you are empathetic by asking how you can help. For example, if there were multiple typos in a document that went to a client, ask if you can help by being an extra set of eyes on the next one.

5. Don’t forget positive feedback

Recognize and praise people’s accomplishments. It makes people feel good to know that you recognize and appreciate hard work, progress, and achievements. Giving positive feedback will empower people and motivate them to continue to work hard and use the same strategies in the future. Don’t just say “great job”—explain why it was great and the impact it has on the company and the team.

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The objective of feedback is to improve performance, so give feedback to help your team utilize and expand their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.

This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.

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