How New Managers Can Communicate Feedback Effectively
Nobody…a new manager especially…likes to receive or deliver negative feedback. But feedback letting people know where they stand—both positive and negative—is a necessary aspect of creating a high performance environment.
Both new and experienced managers need to be able to deliver feedback in a way that conveys their genuine interest in helping their people improve performance. So those direct reports are willing to open up, listen and heed the coaching.
There are lots of new manager training programs that can help you effectively handle the most common, important, urgent and difficult conversations. The best new manager training, of course, includes scenarios that are tailored to your specific strategy, management practices, culture and situation while involving plenty of role plays, practice and on-the-spot coaching.
But if you’re not lucky enough to practice under expert guidance, try to follow these new manager tips on how to give critical feedback so that you ultimately encourage and gain commitment to the new behavior and performance you desire.
- Act as soon as possible
The sooner you can call attention to the behavior that needs correction, the better. If you delay, the situation is soon forgotten, minimized, or overtaken by other more immediate concerns and the opportunity is lost.
- Be straightforward and objective
Remember that your goal is to support your team member’s success. Be direct and specific in describing what you observed. For example, “I noticed you interrupted Chris several times in the meeting this morning.”
- Ask if there is a reason
This is your team member’s opportunity to explain their perspective. Maybe they were unaware they jumped into the conversation before Chris was finished making a point. Maybe they don’t respect or agree with Chris’ views. Maybe they had to leave early and wanted to be sure their ideas were expressed. There could be many different explanations. It is your job to decide if a problem exists that needs correction. If not, thank them for their time and end the conversation. If so, continue…
- Explore solutions together
Reiterate your performance expectations for your team’s behavior. In this case, confirm that you expect team members to be courteous and respect one another and that you want meetings to be an open forum for the sharing and discussion of ideas. Work together to plan a solution to the problematic behavior. It may involve an apology to Chris or listening more carefully to others or requesting some time on the agenda to cover important issues.
- Clarify their understanding of why it matters and agree upon the timing of a follow-up discussion
Once you come up with a solution to the problem, make sure your team member gets it and is committed to working toward improvement. They should clearly understand that a team that cannot work collaboratively together is a less productive, less innovative and less successful team. Hopefully your next talk will be mostly about the employee’s efforts to change behavior and the positive results of the changes made.
When you can address a behavioral problem quickly, objectively, and with a supportive attitude, these so-called difficult conversations will be easier to handle and far more effective.
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