Many Managers dislike giving feedback and it can be a part of their job that they try to avoid. As a result feedback can get watered down, done poorly or not done at all. In my view this is a real shame and a missed opportunity. After all giving and receiving feedback is all about learning and can be very motivating. Most people want to learn and improve in their work and if done well giving feedback can be hugely beneficial to all concerned.
There are, however, certain ways in which it is best to give feedback, especially when it is critical. Ideally it should take place in the supervisee’s supervision sessions. If this is built into the session, as a standing item, then it is less of a big deal if the Manager has to give critical feedback. If the feedback is on the more challenging end of the spectrum it’s best to start off with something positive that the supervisee has done or said, to give them a boost. The Manager can then state the feedback, finishing with another positive. If there is lots of negative feedback the Manager should try not to give too much at once, it will only make the supervisee defensive and they won’t take it all in.
When challenging feedback has been given the Manager can ask the supervisee how they can improve, and what would support them to do so, listening twice as much as they talk. The Manager can say that they want to support the supervisee to do well and that they believe in their work. We are much more attuned to hearing negative feedback and we hear this more clearly than positive. We have to hear 7 positive things about ourselves to make up for hearing one negative. So it’s important that Managers are aware of this.
When the feedback is positive it’s easier, but Managers should be wary of only being positive, however great a supervisee appears to be, there will always be something that they need to work on, and people receive a dis-service if they aren’t told.
If feedback to supervisees is consistently not given they can feel de-motivated and uninspired, but worse than that, having no sense of a marker as to how well they are doing, they are likely to drift. Bad habits will continue, and the more they do so the harder they are to change. Ultimately it is not fair on workers themselves if they don’t receive feedback. If they are performing poorly and aren’t told, they will continue to do so and they deserve to be told the truth about their standard of work. We are all on a path of lifelong learning and feedback is essential to help us ‘course correct’. It may even be that someone needs a disciplinary for incompetency, and they need to be warned about poor performance in an appropriate way before this can take place, so feedback is vital.
To conclude, feedback is very useful, for the receiver so that they know what they are doing well and what they need to improve and to help them feel motivated and valued in their work, and the giver, because they need the worker to improve to ensure that a good job is done. More than this it is a wonderful opportunity for a full and honest discussion between Manager and supervisee that can lead to the personal growth of both and improved work performance all round.