A lot of different elements go into building and maintaining a great team, from recruiting the right people to providing the necessary tools and resources. Creating an environment of education and growth is crucial to keeping your team motivated to deliver their best.
Feedback is an essential part of both an individual and firm’s growth. Done well, feedback is an important skill that allows your team to learn and improve. Here are some best practices for providing effective feedback to your team.
Determine what exactly needs to be improved. Is the issue a matter of communication, skill or is it specific to the task at hand?
Defining the particular issue will allow you to offer more helpful, actionable feedback.
Make it timely
If the issue is communication or skill based, it’s usually best to provide feedback as soon as possible. If feedback is related to a specific task or project, you’ll want to consider when and how often you offer input.
Waiting until the end of a project to provide feedback is unproductive. It often results in wasted time and work needing to be redone, which can discourage a team and slow progress.
Likewise, jumping in before a project is adequately fleshed out often robs your team of the opportunity to make their own decisions.
A good rule of thumb is to weigh in at set intervals, typically when a project is 30%, 60%, and 90% completed.
At 30%, the direction of the project has been established, but it’s not so far along that pivoting would require redoing large amounts of work. At this stage, focus should be on the big picture, not on the small details.
At 60%, the bulk of your project has been produced, but you still have the opportunity to guide the final outcome.
At 90%, your project is nearing completion, so now’s the time for fine-tuning the details.
Select the best method for communication
Whenever possible, communication or skill based feedback should be given face-to-face. For remote teams, this means a Skype or Google video call. Being able to look someone in the eye and see their facial reactions and body language allows you to see how receptive they are to your feedback, particularly when it comes to sensitive subjects.
For task-based feedback, an email or phone call is likely adequate.
How you communicate may also depend on what type of feedback you’re offering. It’s usually best to provide negative feedback privately.
There’s a lot to be gained by sharing positive feedback publically. Not only will it have a positive effect on the person it’s directed at, but it can also provide a learning opportunity for others.
Attitude is everything
Feedback is an opportunity to motivate your team. You won’t accomplish that by being harsh, critical, or offensive. Your goal when delivering feedback should be to provide a supportive environment where your staff can really hear what you’re saying. You want them to focus on the content of your feedback, not distracted by their own reaction.
Feedback is not criticism. It’s an education tool, intended to address performance in a constructive way and to foster growth. Having an effective feedback process creates a stronger team that is able to produce great work efficiently.