Constructive Criticism by Manager a Key to Performance
One of the most difficult and painful growth experience for any manager is giving employees constructive criticism. There is No way around it. Either it is avoided all together or over-done and bungled. The consequences for the manager and the employees under the managers care are negative. Don’t kid yourself that this is not important. Future progress and advancement are at stake. Lack of quality feedback stifles growth. It impedes the progress of the business unit and the manager. Poor feedback creates a type of “Ground Hog Day” where the team re-lives it’s mistakes over and over and productivity suffers. It really isn’t that people don’t want to grow and get better. It is more about the manager not wanting to deliver, what they perceive as, bad news.Without the needed feedback employees do not improve. The manager suffers the most in poor team results and a reputation for not having a business unit that excels.
There are very specific skills and techniques that help a manager improve on constructive criticism. Learning to do this well is a key part of effective delegation. The manager needs to focus on making a dedicated effort to provide feedback. Leadership is based on giving and receiving feedback on a consistent basis. When people make work mistakes, it provides a growth opportunity. What often gets in the way is the managers reluctance to deliver bad news to the employee. How can this be? Helping people grow by giving feedback is a key to management success. Trying to shield your people from the truth in how they performed is just wrong. If people get reinforcement, both positive and negative, they grow.
The Concept of Effective Delegation
When a manager effectively delegates a work assignment or project to someone, they are passing responsibility and trust to the person assigned. The manager is assigning important work and delegating the responsibility for getting it done to the recipient. You are, in fact, saying…”I believe you can do this job and I believe that you will do a good job.” If you want to destroy an employees sense of responsibility for achievement, let them off them off the hook for what went wrong. Worst thing to do. You send the message that the employee really isn’t in charge of their efforts. This removes the “want to and need to” from the motivation equation. When the employee makes a mistake and you coach them to own up to it, they realize they had control but blew it. The next time, they will do better as a result.
The next step, once the feedback commitment is made, is for the manager to acquire better skills for doing it. The process has some basic elements. first, be very specific and clear about what went wrong. Give the feedback with an intent to help not an intent to harm. Be direct and out in the open regarding the errors. Tell them what you believe was not done right. Don’t sugar coat it and don’t blow it out of proportion. Get the employee to weigh-in by asking for their explanation. What happens now is that the mistake is set out on the table for review and discussion. It is no longer the “elephant in the room.” The bad result is not the employee. Rather it is a failed behavior that needs to improve. Make the mistake or problem a “third party” in the feedback session that both the manager and employee can discuss.
Commit to Feedback on Assignments to Employees
Committing to providing quality feedback will truly change the environment for the business unit. People come to expect that their work counts, even the small jobs. Managers will help their people grow by focusing more on their development than any concern for how they might handle the feedback. Of course, the assignment should be delegated through the lens of the employee and feedback should be done this way, as well. Think about how a given employee has handled feedback in the past. Adapt you communication to each employee but do not sugar coat the facts. Keep emotion out of the feedback as much as possible. By being very specific, about exactly what did not go well, the focus can be more on how to improve and less about “why” did this happen. Focus on what the employee can do better and isolate training needs for those things they don’t have in their control.
One of the primary causes of poor business unit or individual performance is a lack of effective constructive criticism. The manger fails everyone when they avoid holding people to task. If a manager finds people consistently falling short and doing so in the same way, the feedback loop is broken. By making a real and complete effort to create a work environment where growth and feedback go hand in hand, the manager an the work unit are well on their way to high-productivity, high-morale and high hopes.
Additional Resources of Giving Feedback
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