Feedback is an important tool for any professional. If you are a Team Leader, giving feedback becomes an essential tool for your success. As a Team Leader, one of your most important goals is to help the team to improve continuously.
Many people are aware of the power of feedback, but they are also aware of the difficulty in giving it. As children we are educated in "right and wrong" and but giving feedback is not so easy because it's not something that is taught.
Another part about improving your ability to give feedback is that, is neither a quick nor easy learning process. After working as a Team Leader for some time now, I have put together a list of tips that can help you "Feed the Feedback".
#1 Schedule regular feedback sessions with team members
Regularity is very important when you are learning something. So schedule regular feedback sessions with team members. Monthly sessions are a good starting point. If one team member requires more attention, perhaps reduce the interval to once a week. With regularity, your ability in giving feedback will improve.
#2 Be prepared
Giving feedback is an activity that demands energy. You need to be prepared to give feedback that is not only good, but also aids improvement. As you have a regular session scheduled (remember tip #1), spend some time before the meeting preparing the feedback. Take some notes during the session so that you can track the team members’ improvements. Don't improvise! If you are not prepared, ask for more time to prepare.
#3 Use facts and don't wait too long
The best way to give good feedback is by basing what you say on actual facts as opposed to opinions. So if you want to give specific feedback to someone, be sure to give an example. This is another reason why it is important to be prepared. Another helpful tip is to give the feedback as soon as possible. If you wait too long to give feedback, you will need to spend more time remembering the whole context of what happened.
#4 Feedback in private or public?
If you have the option, always try to give feedback in private. Feedback can be sensitive and make people feel vulnerable. So choose to give feedback in private to avoid defensive reactions. Positive feedback is easier to share and it can be given both in public and in private. But if you want to share something for the person to improve on, do it in a private and secure environment. Always!
#5 Invest in the relationship to create an open channel
You should not just talk with the team when you want to share feedback. If you have a scheduled session and you don't have any specific feedback to share, attend the meeting and just talk with the other person. You can talk about their feelings, plans and how you can help them. Be honest and create an open channel with the other person.
There is no single way to share feedback and no book to teach you how to do so. It's a mutual process in which you and the other person need to trust each other. So the only way to learn is by practicing. I am sharing these tips to help you feed your ability to give the feedback. By following these tips, I expect you can make feedback a natural and smooth process between you and your team members.
Do you have any other tips to help people with giving feedback? How do you deal with this in your life?
* A special thanks to Carlos Pereira, who helped me review the content, and a special thanks to Carlos Lopes, who created the title.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.