Contributed by Maureen Middleton, Next Concept HR Member.
Communication, it is an essential part of life – something that is innate to how we function and interact as humans. Yet, most organizations struggle with internal communication and most managers rank poorly in this core competency.
One element of communication in the workplace is feedback, and that’s where we are going to focus.
Can I give you some feedback?
All of us have at some point been on the receiving or delivering end of feedback. But how many of us have felt good about it afterwards? How many of us, as managers, have done this poorly?
For most people feedback is one of the necessary evils of work. No one likes to have hard conversations and many managers avoid them at all costs. Instead what often happens, when managers receive feedback about direct reports via email, they make the choice to simply forward the email, which may include critical feedback.
I have to say, this is one of the worst ways to give feedback to your staff. Yes, it may seem efficient, and simple. After all, it does provide the verbatim language of the feedback. However, whomever wrote the original email with the feedback intended for you as the manager, not for your staff member. If they wanted to send it to your staff, you should assume they would have done that.
Now why is this a big deal? Well, part of your job as a manager is to serve as a coach for your team – to provide feedback and guidance around how to navigate relationships and situations. By forwarding an email directly, you may inadvertently damage a relationship since the sender likely didn’t intend for the feedback to be shared in this way. More than likely, their goal was to provide their feedback to you with the intention that you share it with your staff and partner in order for the staff to be able to address the feedback, and make any performance improvements that may be necessary.
What’s a manager to do?
Well, it’s time to shift your mindset as a manager. You have to remember that delivering feedback and coaching your staff is part of your job, but it’s also important to remember that you are not alone. If you need help or support in delivering tough feedback, reach out. That is why HR is a part of your organization – to support you in your development. Plus, there are plenty of studies on the neuroscience of practicing tough conversations and how it gets easier with practice.
So get your talking points together and do a run through with your HR Business Partner.
And please, think twice before you hit the forward button.
About the Author
Maureen Middleton, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a senior human resources professional with strengths in balancing the goals and strategic objectives of the organization with that of the employees. With vast experience in the private and non-profit sectors, Maureen is a diversity and inclusion champion who is passionate about social justice and creating innovative programs to address inclusion at all levels of a company. She also has experience in full employee life-cycle with expertise in employee relations, and change management. Maureen’s strengths involve building strong relationships across all levels of an organization.