Feedback is problematic. Leaders often dislike giving it and the members of your staff rarely get enough to help them learn and to change their behaviors. But feedback, both positive and negative, is an important tool for learning, effective work, and career growth. Next time you talk with someone about their performance, follow these four steps:
- Be specific. Feedback needs to be actionable. Use concrete examples to back up your observations. Avoid generalizations. Instead, describe the behavior clearly and specifically.
- State the impact. Tell the person how his behavior is affecting you, the team, or the school/organization.
- Prescribe. Be specific about what needs to change. Often employees won't know what to change unless you tell them. Be sure to check for understanding. Does your staff member truly understand what you expect of them?
- Do it often. Get in the habit of praising good performance and identifying troublesome behavior.
Adapted from Guide to Giving Effective Feedback (HBR OnPoint Collection).