Successfully delivering feedback to team members can make or break the spirit of the person and/or the productivity of the team. Use these keys to help craft, deliver, and track responsiveness to feedback:
GIVE FEEDBACK IN A TIMELY MANNER. Don’t wait until “the next time” you have to assign a project to someone to remind them of the mistakes on the last assignment. Build in time at the completion of tasks to assess performance and provide constructive feedback.
WRITE IT OUT. I suggest creating a feedback form which covers the basic areas of performance/success you want to address in giving feedback. The form will be invaluable because it allows for consistently assessing feedback across all team members. You can even include a section to deal with issues unique to a particular project/person. Be careful with this…you may have to decide whether these are your “personal” notes or become a part of the file. Either way, it helps you to look at feedback from a comprehensive perspective.
PROVIDE TEAM FEEDBACK. In addition to one-on-one feedback, assemble the troops and give an overall assessment, Offer opportunities for the team to assess their own performance as well. This is a great opportunity to give out kudos, manage expectations for future projects and identify lessons learned.
PREPARE FOR FALL OUT. It goes without saying that not all feedback is going to be a “pat on the back.” There are times when it is necessary to address poor performance, negligence, incompetence, etc.; while more difficult, it is still necessary. Things left unsaid, as it relates to performance and expectation, equate to acceptance of the behavior or performance. Think carefully about how to craft dialogue which states your concerns but also offers tools to improve. Be specific. This is not the time to dance around the issues, offer examples, provide data, be clear. If the goal is for the behavior not to be repeated or the performance to improve this step is critical. It will be necessary for you to anticipate disagreement or an emotional response. The form suggested in Key 2 will help should this occur. You will be able to “stick to the script” and ensure that you cover all important issues.
SOLICIT FEEDBACK ON YOUR ROLE. Self evaluation is beneficial to the superior just like it is to the subordinate. In opening the dialogue for feedback its helps to show the team and its members that not only are you dissecting team performance you are also looking at ways to more effectively lead the team iin achieving its goals and objectives. Position yourself to be a “solution-focused” rather than a “problem-driven” team leader. The goal is always to improve and create/sustain positive momentum.
REFER BACK TO FEEDBACK. Revisiting feedback is a good thing when done correctly. Just be careful not to do it in such a way that the team member feels like you are doing the “I told you so” tap dance on their forehead. Review the feedback you have given in the past and use it as a way to guide/support the team in upcoming endeavors. For instance, if meeting deadlines was a challenge in a previous engagement then it becomes an area of focus for the new engagement. Knowing what derailed you last time can arm you for the next time.
ENFORCE THE 5-MINUTE RULE. Ideally, you have given some thought to the feedback you will provide prior to meeting with a team/team member. Once you have documented your feedback walk away from it for awhile. I call it the “5 minute rule” but really it’s an hour or a day. Revisit what you wrote and how you felt, you may want to tweak it. Give yourself an opportunity to rethink, rephrase, restate or explain something more effectively. This rule has saved me time and time again.
At the end of the day, the purpose of feedback should be to improve not to indict. We want our teams to strengthen weakness and improve on strengths. Our ability to positively influence future performance is often tied to our delivery of feedback.
ENNA A. BACHELOR
“Proactive bonding is a mindset. You actively look for the common goal between yourself and the other person or team. This helps eliminate any built-in adversarial filter you bring to a meeting or project. It stops that inner-dialogue of tribal seeking. The brain is looking for tribal behavior: you’re like my tribe or you’re different from my tribe. ~Daniel Goleman
From the Article: Resist the “Us” vs. “Them” Mindset
It’s been said that a leader without followers is just a man taking a walk. There is a lot of truth to this statement. Leadership is probably one of the most risky team sports to play. As you elevate in your career/organization and your responsibilities increase you become more responsible for the outcomes and successes of the group you lead. Once you become the number one draft pick you cannot escape the limelight or the obligations. All the more reason to invest the time, energy, and effort in developing your team. You may not get to choose all the teammates…in fact, you may not get to choose any of them but BUT cultivating a culture of success and creativity will be crucial to your success. Here are five tips:
1. Be patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your team won’t be either. Establish rapport. Build confidence. Develop a strategy that plays to the teams strengths.
2. Make goal and priority setting inclusive
Chances are, you have already been given your marching orders for the “ivory palace.” But, the “how” and the “who” have been left up to you. It is important to get input from those on the front line as you develop your success strategy. Once the overall goals have been set then its time to set goals for the individual team members. When you do this you create buy-in and ensure that the work and effort is supporting the established priorities.
3. Work with the weak links
We all have team members who are not as strong as others. They can be the downfall of the group if not managed properly. Instead of seeing this glass as half empty see it as half full. Use this as an opportunity to support, develop, encourage and hold accountable this person. You may be pleasantly surprised. And, if you are not then you have some decisions to make about the team structure going forward.
4. Celebrate successes with the team
5. Check yourself
Always review “lessons learned” from the perspective of the leader and the follower. You might be surprised that your view from the hot seat is very different than the front line perspective. Lessons learned are the seeds of future success. Invite and encourage the team to participate in this process. Dare I say, require it? Here’s a suggestion: On your weekly status reports or at meetings request team members provide you with a “lesson learned.”
Teams can work “with you” or “against you.” Good leadership encourages and values the input of its team members.
ENNA A. BACHELOR