One of the most important skills you will learn during a project management apprenticeship or in your years working as a team leader, is how to give feedback in an effective manner. Feedback is important as it helps team members to improve on their own skills but can too often be taken in a negative manner.
Many managers dread having to give feedback to team members if it includes any negative points as you can never be sure how that feedback will be received and what the outcome will be.
However, if you give feedback in a positive, constructive way, even with elements you need your team member to improve upon, you should begin to see a real, positive change.
The different types of feedback
Most feedback you will give to your team members will fall in to one of two categories;
- Constructive feedback; outlining the points where you would like to see improvement
- Positive reinforcement; pointing out and placing emphasis on the behaviour you have seen which you appreciate
Everyone likes to hear positive feedback, and this should be easy for you to give. Telling your team when they are doing a good job boosts morale and keeps the team motivated and interested in the project. Showing appreciation for a good job also encourages your team to reproduce results and work harder as they can see that their efforts are being appreciated.
However, if you need to draw attention to areas in which you would like to see improvement, then constructive feedback is necessary. Rather than just point out things you are not happy with, instead outline areas which could be improved – this way the feedback is much more likely to be taken on board. If your team hear you offering advice and alternatives rather than just telling them they are performing poorly you are less likely to come up against resistance to your suggestions.
The best way to offer feedback
When needing to give constructive feedback, you should draw upon all of your project management skills to ensure that it is taken in the helpful way you mean it. However, if a team member simply isn’t performing to the level you need then you must be honest and tell them. One badly performing team member can de-motivate a whole team so there is no option but to try and resolve the issue.
The first thing to remember is to be honest and open but also tactful; you do not want to come across as overly harsh or bullying. You should give examples of the areas you need to see improvements so that you can be specific in your remarks and your team member knows what you are referring to rather than just hearing a general criticism which they may naturally resist.
Feedback should be treated as a two-way street. Once you have brought up the areas you would like to see improved, you should ask your team member how they saw the example you have given and how they feel about what you have said. Give them time to respond and listen to their point of view and take on board what they have said. It may be that they didn’t see the situation in the same way you have done and you could both learn something, or you may gain insight that they will never agree with you. Either way, you can use that to move forward in your working relationship to suit you both.