2 New Managers Tips on Giving Meaningful Feedback


New manager training experts say that one of the most fearsome duties new managers face is giving feedback on a direct report’s performance.

In our two decades of helping clients take their managers to the next level, we agree that many new managers act as if they were gagged when it is time to critique a team member’s effectiveness. They avoid the conversation as if their lips were sealed.

But, hey, you new managers and supervisors out there, giving feedback is definitely in your job description. You may previously have been responsible only for your own performance as an individual contributor; but now you are responsible for your team’s performance. Your future success as a manager depends upon the success of your team. In other words, you need to learn how to give feedback in a way that works to improve your employees’ effectiveness on the job.

Here are two big new manager training tips regarding feedback:

  1. Remember the purpose
    Keep the focus, both in your own mind and during the discussion, on the purpose of the feedback. It is not to give you power or demean your employee. Rather, feedback is the means to help your colleague be successful. Your aim as a newly promoted manager is to help your team members get better at what they do. You are giving them information that can make a real difference in the way they interact with others and how they can be more productive. This insight is valuable to them and their future. Done right, feedback is a gift.
  2. Be specific
    General comments like “you need to contribute more to the team effort” are of little value. Be very clear as to the behaviors you have observed that need improvement, the suggestions on how to do it better, and the kind of support and follow-up you feel are needed.You could say something like, “I noticed in the team meeting yesterday and last Monday that you did not participate in the discussion of problems we are facing on our current project. We certainly need and value your input. Is there a reason you were silent?” Maybe they need to be called upon to offer their ideas; maybe they are avoiding a conflict with another team member; maybe they are preoccupied with a difficult personal situation. Whatever the problem may be, you need to listen well to their answer. Work together to resolve any issues that keep your employee from expressing their thoughts and opinions. And then agree on a plan going forward.

The better you get at solving performance problems before they become insurmountable, the better your team will get at addressing subjects in open, honest dialogue. Feeling accountable for one’s actions is the first step toward establishing a high performing team as a new manager.

To learn more about taking your management skills to the next level, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

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