Give your message in a clear, helpful and safe way
Emotional barriers to giving effective feedback are huge. And harder to resolve. If a manager isn’t sure how a person will respond, he or she might be worry about the reaction along with how to respond to that reaction. Many people are simply uncomfortable with emotional reactions. But again, managers can be taught to overcome the emotional challenges by following clear principles for giving feedback.
On a practical note, some managers are afraid of legal or HR complaints. If you are afraid you will be called sexist for telling a woman she is behaving too aggressively, you might be unlikely to let her know that her behaviours are causing her to lose the confidence of her colleagues. Learning to give your message in a clear, helpful and safe way will solve these problems.
Let’s take an example: Pat is a great performer, the best in the team. You will rate Pat in the top 20% this year again. However Pat does not share information freely – only with a select set of trusted colleagues. This leaves the rest of the team unhappy – they feel excluded, they feel they cannot do their best work because they do not have full information, they feel he gets special treatment. He does get special treatment because he earns those privileges. You would like for Pat to be less suspicious and more confident … at least more willing to share information.
Last week at a team meeting, Pat did not tell John about a customer conversation and the resulting insight for the business. As a result, the work that John was doing on a project was not well positioned.
So now you as the manager have to step in – not only is John demotivated, the entire team suspects a more sinister motivation. How do you give feedback to Pat in a way that does not demotivate him? Pat is a big contributor to the team. He loves having autonomy and he has earned the right it. You trust him, but others don’t. Telling Pat that people do not trust him probably won’t lead to the result you want as a manager.
We are going to go into much closer detail over the coming articles, but I want to leave you with the challenge of how Pat might feel about the feedback and what you can do to increase the chances that he will receive the message in the right spirit and take action.