Using Feedback to Drive a Top Performing Team
There I was, feeling angry, dejected, lost and alone. How could anyone be so downright nasty and spiteful to call out that my performance could have been better in that important customer meeting (even though I may have checked out of the conversation early, behaved completely disengaged in front of the customer, and allowed the rest of the team to make up for my non-performance).
I reflect back on early years in my professional career where feedback like this felt like a knife through the heart! I always took feedback so personally, and I avoided it like the plague. The reality was that the leadership team actually wanted me to succeed, and these types of conversations were supposed to help me be aware of my limitations, improve my professionalism and reach deeper to increase my working performance (despite how brutalised I felt).
Using feedback to improve all our performances is a valuable tool, not just within the organisation, but useful to broaden our skills in life, making us all more balanced individuals. We should grow a culture of receiving and giving feedback whenever we see opportunities for growth of individuals, as many of us (me included) still have areas of our behaviour where we are unaware of how others perceive it and how that may negatively impact on others.
One of the most important aspects, when considering giving feedback is the way in which we deliver the feedback in order to make it most effective for the recipient.
Feedback firstly should be given in the context of genuine interest of the receiver for improvement. Using it for point-scoring or using “the stick” as punishment should be avoided, instead providing a sensitivity to the person’s needs.
When giving feedback, it should be specific, using examples to assist the recipient to understand what might have been perceived by other people. The behaviour that was exhibited should be described with some detail and any impact due to that behaviour that it caused. Often, it might be useful to describe what an alternative behaviour could have generated a better outcome and the alternative impact that would have caused (something which the staff member can achieve and according to their ways of doing things).
Communicating effectively based on individual staff member styles is an important consideration. The four types of communication styles need to be taken into consideration which are process, action, people and idea. Depending on the individual’s dominant style, they are likely to be more receptive on one style than another. Understanding your individual style and meeting the staff members style will make the communication more effective.
Effective communication processes include the setup of varied communication channels which should be made regularly. Regular catch-ups with individual team members every 1 to 2 weeks is recommended to understand how the team member is feeling generally, if there were any immediate blockers to their progress, and address any issues or rumours flying around the office.
An open-door policy to staff also important, allowing team members to access assistance immediately in times of need, to try and address issues as soon as possible.
A broader team meeting with both local and remote workers involved is also critical, to reiterate the business strategies, reinforce our goals, motivate with our organisational vision and acknowledge and reward good performance.
Participating in the company-wide town halls is also encouraged where the manager and the wider team can communicate what the team is working on and their achievements to the entire organisation.
As the team’s manager, you need to develop trust with each team member to allow open and honest conversation, getting to the root of issues without fear of punishment. Staff need to feel empowered in order to perform their role effectively, with support from the manager. Feedback should be provided in a non-judgemental approach, and ideally allowing the staff member to come up with the best options in order to resolve issues (rather than a mentor approach of suggesting the best solution to the staff member).
The “GROW” method could be leveraged here, to determine first the Goal of what the staff member is trying to achieve, the Reality or current issue in play preventing the goal from being reached. Options are then discussed where the team member then decides the best Way-Forward. When using this method, the manager should be listening 80% of the time and using language (20% of the time) to support a good outcome but not force their own outcomes on the team member. The manager should be attentive, being mindful on what is being spoken, and aware of their own reactions. They should not be judgemental in any way and encourage the staff member to own the activities for a successful outcome.
Where there are disputes in the workplace, a robust process must be in place for effective and speedy resolutions.
All in all, we can use the workplace to develop our own and our team's capabilities, maturity and effectiveness. Feedback is one of the most important tools to help give awareness of our own limitations and how we might go about improving ourselves.