What Makes 69% of Managers Uncomfortable?
A recent (and somewhat) disturbing Harris poll found that almost 70% of managers are uncomfortable with a very basic requirement for their job – communicating with their employees. And the top area of discomfort is in giving feedback on performance that their employees might not want to hear.
Why Managers Avoid Giving Critical Feedback
It’s not hard to understand why some managers are uncomfortable giving the kind of feedback that their employees might respond negatively to. They may not want to hurt someone’s feelings; they want to be liked; or they fear possible reactions of upset, drama and retributions. But managers are responsible for the team’s performance and the performance of each individual team member.
Giving feedback – both positive and negative – is a manager’s responsibility and should be part of your basic training for new managers.
Flip Your Thinking
If you want to be a successful manager, you need to change your perspective about giving employee feedback. Done right, feedback is an essential motivation and performance tool to help your direct reports improve, fit in, and be successful.
And consider the recipient’s point of view. Feedback when honest, respectful, and helpful is often welcome. Not only does it show interest and caring, but authentic feedback also provides understanding of what needs to be done to be successful in your unique workplace culture.
Tips on Giving Employee Feedback More Regularly and Comfortably
- Provide Feedback for the Right Reasons
Employee feedback is not a vehicle for you to feel superior as a manager. If this is your motive, forget it. Feedback as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and improvement should be given directly but kindly and the more specific you can be, the better. When your intent to help is sincere, your feedback has a higher likelihood to be received as a gift.
- Step Back and Listen
Give your employee some space to absorb your concerns and ask clarifying questions. You need to listen carefully to understand the situation and the context and reasons for the behavior. Once you fully understand the employee’s point of view, you can begin to effectively explore steps toward behavior improvement.
- Acknowledge the Emotions
According to a recent book, “The Highly Sensitive Person,” highly sensitive people make up as much as 20 percent of the population. If the feedback recipient is upset, give them an opportunity to think about the feedback and schedule another time to continue the conversation in a good and meaningful manner. In general, share as much relevant information as possible so that the situation, behavior and impact are clear.
- Stay Connected
Feedback needs follow-up. Check in regularly for signs of progress and to see what support might be helpful. This is your chance to continue to encourage your employee and to reiterate your confidence in their ability to grow and succeed.
The Bottom Line
Arguably, a manager’s most essential skill is to communicate effectively with their team. You need to be able to inspire, motivate, set expectations, and, yes, manage performance. When you give feedback in a straightforward, proportionate, and respectful way, you can help your team to perform at their peak. Do not be one of those managers uncomfortable talking with your employees.
To learn more about how to better communicate as a manager, download 7 Proven Tips on How Managers Can Increase Employee Engagement through Communication