Have you ever come home from work to look in the mirror and find a huge piece of spinach in your teeth leftover from your salad at lunch? We all know how embarrassing this is, and how frustrating it is that none of your co-workers told you. According to CareerBuilder:
Feedback, in many ways, is perceived like spinach. People feel uncomfortable telling someone that they have spinach in their teeth, and people feel uncomfortable giving feedback at work.
The reality is that the majority of professionals cringe when it comes time for evaluations, self assessments, and even everyday feedback. Unfortunately, some managers communicate only when there is a problem, so employees tend to view feedback in a negative light. Lack of communication contributes to 80 percent of workplace issues. These statistics show that constant communication and ongoing feedback are critical to well-functioning and high-performing individuals, teams, and organizations.
Believe it or not, feedback can be positive, worthwhile and even enjoyable. The key is knowing how to communicate when delivering and receiving feedback. Here are tips for giving and receiving feedback at work:
Often, we associate feedback with an annual review. Feedback should be day to day, and it doesn’t have to be formal. For example, if you notice that someone is consistently speaking out of turn at meetings, pull them aside and mention it to them privately, and let them know how their behavior is being perceived. On the other hand, if a co-worker did a great job on a sales call, let them know right after the call and point out specific instances that were impressive.
As tempting as it may be to hide behind e-mail, all feedback should be done face to face. This ensures that there is nothing lost in translation, and it allows feedback to be conversational. Individual performance feedback should be given in private. Eliminate interruptions.
“Ryan, we really enjoy having you on the team. Just one little thing, we were wondering about the $50,000 missing from the budget. Oh, and I really love that sweater.” Be direct, sincere, and to the point.
We think of feedback coming from a manager to a direct report, but it is important that employees are also given a chance to give their manager feedback.
Take the guesswork out of receiving feedback by giving employees specific examples of their habits and specific tips moving forward.
Remember the spinach. Thinking of the spinach example reinforces the point that employees and managers alike want to know about their performance – the good, the bad and the ugly. Awareness is the only way for employees to grow and develop.