One of the worst things for an employee to feel is the fear of receiving negative feedback, but one of the worst things for managers to do is to not provide any feedback whatsoever, leaving their employees twisting in the wind insofar as how good of a job they are actually doing.
One thing managers may not realize, however, is that employees who are fearful of how well (or not well) they are doing may be distracted from their work, and that leads to lower productivity. It is therefore crucial to provide regular feedback to your employees, as this builds trust when they know you will "give it to them straight" if and, inevitably, when issues arise.
Addressing concerns in a timely fashion will prevent the possibility of your dissatisfaction coming out of left field and blindsiding your employees. It will also allow for less time to go by wherein that mistake could potentially be made again.
Here are some pointers that can help you provide the most helpful feedback possible to your team:
1. Establish an End Goal...and Let Your Rep In On It
Why are you giving this particular rep this particular feedback? Having an attainable goal lets the rep know that you are not "picking on" him or her, but that you are actually trying to help that rep meet the goal that you have in mind for them. Plus, informing your team of the organization's goals allows them to see how valuable their individual contributions can be to the bigger picture and why it's so important that they do a great job and give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.
2. Use "I" Instead of "You"
Saying the word "you" can sound like an attack on the rep. Framing your feedback in such a way as to suggest that how you are perceiving the rep's performance, as opposed to how they are actually performing, gives that rep the chance to agree or disagree with your assessment and to provide an explanation as to why they are performing in this way.
3. Bond with Your Team
Having regular conversations with your team can only help you get to know them better and, as a result, you may be better able to discern whether one team member would rather receive detailed, individualized criticism, while another might prefer a more vague description of what they are doing wrong while being permitted the opportunity to fix it. Knowing your reps' personality types can go a long way in helping you successfully communicate with them.
4. Make Sure The Rep Understands You
Once you have provided the rep with feedback, ask the rep to confirm that he or she understands what is expected of them going forward. You could even go a step further and work on a plan with that rep to keep him or her on track (like an action plan for an audit), then check in with them periodically to make sure that they are, in fact, on track.
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If you're on the opposite side of this relationship, and you are actually the rep who is seeking feedback but never gets it, here are some tips to help you drag it out of your manager:
1. Think of Some Questions to Ask Your Manager
More often than not, employees tend to leave their feedback sessions feeling like something's missing and like not enough information was covered. A great way to combat this is to, in a similar way to a job interview, prepare a list of questions in advance. You especially want to take advantage of this if your feedback sessions are rare -- get the most out of your manager while you can!
2. Establish Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses
When you are aware of what you are great at and the areas where you need work, you can bring these points to your manager's attention in an effort to elicit his/her feedback. For example, you might want to remind your manager of how you have a real knack for setting up promotional displays, but your follow-up with customers could use some work. Ask your manager for any suggestions that s/he might have to help you improve.
3. Bond with Your Manager
The same rule that applies above in point number 3 for managers also applies here. The better you know your manager, and the more comfortable you are with him or her, the more comfortable you will be when asking for feedback.
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Because giving and receiving feedback is so important in the workplace, it should be the norm, rather than taboo. Feedback shouldn't always focus on areas of improvement either. A simple "great job today!" can go a long way. When managers show their reps that their efforts have been noticed and are appreciated, they boost employee morale - which also boosts productivity.
And when reps' performance could use some work, finding out about it sooner rather than later prevents the isolation and drop in productivity that can come from reps who are unsure about their performance....and what management is going to do about it.
Is feedback a part of your everyday work language, or is it something that needs to be given/received more often? See how your feedback performance stacks up to those of your peers by clicking below to receive our free Field Force Productivity Assessment.