why great managers give feedback

what is feedback?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘feedback’? The first time I heard the word, was when David my childhood next-door neighbour was telling me all about the Gibson Les Paul guitar (if memory serves me well) and speaker he had just received as a gift.

I looked up to David. He had an awesome record-collection and loved his music. As he strummed the guitar strings much in the manner of his heroes, Deep Purple, he suddenly held the guitar close to the speaker and let the ‘pick-ups’ on the guitar-face catch the sound reverberating from the speaker. Just where was that sound coming from?

The noise ‘echoed’ and ‘looped’ until he moved the guitar away. In essence, the guitar was now ‘hearing’ the effect of the sound it had just made to us, played back to itself.

Aside from the musical origins of the term, feedback in the context of people-management, has an entirely different connotation. It’s a form of shared insight that tells people just how they are performing.

reciprocity at work

There are times when we are on the receiving end of the effects of our actions or words, played back to us through the actions or words of others. This is a sort of ‘feedback’ or what Robert Cialdini calls ‘the principle of reciprocity’ at work. ‘Reciprocity’ is how the world repays in kind that which we have given out, both good and bad. In plain English, we sow what we reap. (You get the idea).

What if we could elicit feedback proactively and regularly in order to understand the effect we might have on those around us: our customers, our team and our managers before it manifests itself in poor behaviour or attitude?  What if we could ensure that our team enjoys the benefit of feedback from us so that they continue to take positive action and work to correct certain traits or tendencies?

feedback belongs in your toolkit

Well, you can. Providing feedback to a team is part of your toolkit as a manager. When you provide effective feedback, you deliver both insight into how a person (or the team) is doing as well as providing a degree of direction to reach desired levels of performance consistently. It is a competency where you – as a manager – take your questioning skills, your listening skills and your observations and share your reflections with recipients.

Why is feedback necessary? Effective Managers have a clear sense of what they want to achieve and what the organisation expects them to achieve through their teams. Therefore, you as a competent manager make sure that a developmental conversation takes place regularly (and sometimes randomly where appropriate) in order to effect the change you want to see.

reactive or proactive

As a manager, you can deliver feedback reactively – that is – in response to an employee’s action or inaction. However, some of the most effective managers deliver feedback proactively. In doing so, you will deliver training and dynamic learning ‘on the fly’ through a series of ‘touch points’ or moments in the course of the working day.

Conversely, feedback also draws attention to some of the ‘blind-spots’ which we all may have developed over time. Feedback helps you to understand just how your performance – positive or negative – is affecting your team as well as the wider organisation. Your internal responses might include the following: “Oh…do I really do that?” “Did I not do that?” “Is that what people really think of me as a Manager?”

In a future post, we will look at some guidelines on giving feedback as well as a useful model to follow, which will ensure that you get it right first time. The key point is that feedback cannot wait. You owe it to your team to help them grow. You owe it to yourself to ask for feedback. As Bill Gate said, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve”.

people management training for new managers

As an accredited coach and trainer, I love working with new managers to help them master the basics of people-management including delegation, difficult conversations, team-building, coaching and leadership.

Author: Mark
Hi! Did you enjoy this content? I can help business such as yours to leverage the very best from your people through world-class training and coaching. Just call me on +44 7743 912 492.

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