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Feedback is a Gift

Feedback is a gift? Chocolate, diamonds, flowers, those are gifts!  Feedback is just words.
Actually, feedback is one of the most important (and inexpensive) gifts that you can give your employees so that they know you appreciate them and care about their success.  Feedback provides tons of mini-moments of recognition, coaching, advice, training and affirmation.

Why Feedback is Important

Have you ever wondered if you were doing a good job but no one let you know how you are doing?  Or, you’ve been doing something the wrong way and no one bothered to tell you? They just keep fixing your mistakes and getting annoyed with you?  Perhaps you’re guilty of that yourself as a manager?

People want to know when they are doing a good job, they want to know what they are doing right, and what they could be doing better.  Sure, many companies have formal performance reviews but it’s really not a good idea to only let your employees know once or twice a year how they are doing.  Not Feeling Valued is one of the top reasons people leave their jobs.  Consistent and meaningful feedback is a great way to show your employees that you value them.

How to Give Meaningful Feedback

Like any gift, the details are important.  Let’s say someone tosses a plastic bag on your desk with a pair of silver earrings inside and says, “Thanks for doing that big project.”  Too bad you’re allergic to silver and your ears will turn green, and they’re long dangling things that you will never wear anyway. Now, what if instead the earnings were in a nice gift bag, with a little ribbon and tissue, and they were hypo allergenic and the exact kind you like to wear.  Wouldn’t that gift have a lot more impact?

So think about that when you’re giving feedback.  Make the gift genuine, tailored  to the individual, and highly impactful.

Tips for effective feedback:

  • Be genuine. Be enthusiast about what the person did.  Smile. Get excited about a job well done.  Show your emotions!
  • Acknowledge and be clear about the behavior. Let the person know exactly what it was that you think they did great. Not only will they feel good but it reinforces a behavior.
  • Be clear about the impact. Let the person know the result of their actions.  
  • The sooner the better. Give feedback as quickly as possible after the action. 
  • Tailor it to the individual. Some people like public recognition, or to be able to share their success story.  For others, this is embarrassing and uncomfortable.  Know your employees.
  • Use a 4:1 rule. If you give lots of positive feedback, people will respond to constructive feedback more  readily and understand that you have an intent to help them. Be aware of how much positive feedback (4) you give versus constructive feedback (1).

Positive Feedback Example:

Manager: Good job helping Mr. C out with that problem today Tammy!

Or

Manager: It was great how you helped Mr. C with his account problem today Tammy.  It’s always difficult when a customer is upset but you remained calm and professional while you reviewed the account details with him. When you gave him a printed copy and highlighted the items, he was able to understand exactly what happened.  It was nice to see he was smiling when he left.  That’s exactly the kind of service we want to provide to our customers.  Thanks!

It took an extra minute to think about what to say to Tammy in the second example but now she knows exactly what she did right and what the impact was.  Your feedback will also re-enforce a behavior that you want her to repeat.

Constructive Feedback

Constructive feedback can be a little more difficult to deliver but it’s just as valuable as positive feedback.

A few notes about constructive feedback.  Here’s where you need to keep your emotions in check and make sure you use positive language. If someone does something incorrectly the worst thing you can do is to charge over to them angrily and chew them out.  With any feedback, stop and think about what you are going to say first. Then put your emotions aside and address the issue with the person as a genuine desire to help them perform better.  If you find yourself saying words like “I’m angry about” or “I don’t like how you,” take a step back and rethink your approach.

Constructive Feedback Example

Manager: Mary, I read that email you sent to Mr. C. and I didn’t like the tone of it. I don’t think he is going to be very happy when he reads it.  From now on, before you send out any emails like that, send them to me first and I’ll review them.  

OR

Manager: Mary, let’s review that email you sent to Mr. C.  There are a few negative words in the email that can impact how Mr. C feels when he reads this.  You want to be careful to always use positive language in customer emails because that shows professionalism and a genuine interest in helping a customer.  How might you change those two sentences to eliminate the negative words?…….Great! Let’s work on a few more together.

In the second feedback example you’ve explained the impact to her, focused on the facts, and showed her that you want to help.  It’s become a training opportunity for Mary.  You’ll want to give her some great positive feedback when she gets the email right!

Show your employees you value them by showering them with Gifts of Feedback. It’s very worthwhile and the only cost is a little time.

Gift, Christmas, Surprise, Packed

I welcome your feedback about this post.  Please comment, and share with others.

3 thoughts on “Feedback is a Gift”

  1. I love your feedback tips and the practical examples! As a teacher, giving feedback is half my job. I try to get the student to see what they did well or not, as well as giving additional input. After going over the corrections, I sometimes tell them to go over their work again and point out all the things they did well. Both positive and negative evaluation are good lessons.

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