The Effective Management Tool that Gets Undervalued

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As a manager, providing the tools and skills for employees to succeed is an integral element of your role. But for managers who are time-poor and stretched between tasks, finding effective ways to help people thrive can be difficult.

Providing thoughtful, high-quality feedback is a fast way to touch base with employees and help them move forward. Yet many managers struggle to deliver feedback in a way that is meaningful and effective, making it a tool that may be underutilised and undervalued for some businesses.

Additionally, while many organisations have clear structures to deliver negative feedback to employees through one-on-one meetings, disciplinary action and problem escalation, approaches to positive feedback tend to be more casual and on-the-spot. Not only does this have the potential to impact staff motivation and morale, but it represents the loss of an important opportunity – the opportunity to highlight what went right.

Tips for making the most of your feedback opportunities:

  • Build an effective team

  • Know what type of feedback motivates your people

  • Actively look for opportunities to deliver relevant and timely feedback.

Start by building effective teams

Research has shown that the best employees and leaders combine vitality and learning to thrive in the workplace. By identifying ‘thrivers’ and avoiding those who merely work to get to the next paycheck (aka ‘survivors’), you can create a team of people who reduce the amount of time you need to spend on discipline and negative feedback, as well as improving the overall productivity within your organisation.

If you lack hiring resources, or if you need extremely thorough candidate assessments and analyses, it’s important to consider all the tools at your disposal.

At Chandler Macleod, we use our People Insights team to optimise hiring choices and provide maximum value for clients.

Once you have gotten hiring right, you can focus on leadership techniques that help get the most from each person – and help them get the most from their time under your management.

Be a force for positivity  

Studies have shown that positive reinforcement is often the preferable option, as it helps keeps morale high and stimulates an intrinsic desire to perform well. So when it comes to a strategic use of feedback, opting for the carrot over the whip is a smart way to build a positive workplace culture.

Opting for the carrot over the whip is a smart way to build a positive workplace culture.

While you will need to think about things like 3-strike systems, probation periods and KPI tracking, focusing on reward and praise systems is a two-pronged strategy. First, it puts you in the mindset of expecting positive outcomes instead of looking for negative behaviours. Second, it arms you to immediately start delivering feedback.

Understand what drives your team

Find out what motivates your staff members – it may be appreciative words, money, time off, a free lunch, or a better workspace.

From there, you can identify scenarios where you can encourage your team, and outline positive behaviours associated with those outcomes. For example, if getting a new client on board is a scenario which would warrant positive feedback, work out what leads to getting new clients. Is it actively chasing leads? Is it dedicating time outside office hours to networking?

Ensure you reflect on what specifically was done to achieve the goal. This is also the right time to look at what could be improved on – negative feedback is an essential aspect of managing people, but delivering it effectively, and in a way that is useful and non-confrontational is what sets average managers apart from great ones.

Negative feedback is an essential aspect of managing people, but delivering it effectively is what sets average managers apart from great ones.

Follow through and stick to your processes

You’ve gone to the effort of identifying when and how you deliver feedback to your team members. However, this is only the beginning, because effective feedback is an ongoing active process, and you have to be on the lookout for situations that warrant some communication.

And don’t forget – everyone has room to improve. Giving great feedback is one thing, but gracefully accepting feedback from others is an excellent opportunity to lead by example.

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