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The Secret that Separates Effective Managers from "Meh" Managers

/ 7.21.16

Effective managers have an open secret that separates them from other professionals in their lane. It's called feedback, and it's not always glowing. In 2014, Harvard Business Review contributors surveyed 900 employees to get their opinions on feedback. What they found was pretty remarkable: employees want to hear negative ("corrective") feedback more than twice as much as they want to hear positive feedback. Unfortunately, most people don't like delivering this highly sought after information—including managers.


Not only do managers not like giving corrective 7-21-16-Manager-Feedback.pngfeedback to their employees, research shows they’re not good at it. Our annual Employee Engagement Trends Report showed the survey item, “My immediate supervisor regularly gives me constructive feedback on my job performance” decreased in favorability by a huge margin (-2.30 percent), compared to other items in the manager effectiveness category.


The good news? We can all get better at delivering constructive feedback. Below are four tips to help even the mildest of managers become more candid and effective with feedback.


Avoid using vague words and phrases.

This is pretty common sense advice when it comes to giving feedback, so it’s probably not surprising to see it on the list. However, you may be surprised to learn that vague feedback can hold your employees back – especially women. A recent Harvard Business review article found that vague feedback is correlated with lower performance ratings for females. If you’re going to take the time to give feedback, make sure it’s clear and direct.


Tie feedback to business goals and outcomes whenever possible.

Avoid using weightless phrases like, “You have great ideas.” Instead, try, “Your idea resulted in the creation of a new sales tactic, which in turn brought on 30 new leads last quarter.” Use facts and figures rather than opinions and emotions to elaborate your point.


Know the right time to not give feedback.

Sometimes feedback and candor are not the right answer. If you’re feeling over-emotional (remember HALT – hungry, angry, lonely, or tired), tempted to place blame, or have recently given a lot of feedback, it’s not the right time.


Have a genuine desire to help your employee grow.

Enter difficult feedback conversations with a sincere wish of helping your employee grow instead of setting out to show them how they were wrong. In the words of Monique Valcour, “The feedback should increase, not drain, the employee’s motivation and resources for change.”


"A true developmental leader sees the raw material for brilliance in every employee and creates the conditions to let it shine, even when the challenge is tough."

–Monique Valcour


American leadership scholar Warren Bennis once said, “Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth.” Giving feedback is tough – especially when it’s negative. But remember; employees want and need it to grow. And if you’re seeking to be an effective manager, it’s a skill you need to master. Good feedback can make the difference between an employee who puts in just enough to get by, and an employee who is powerfully engaged.


Ready to help your managers go from “meh” to amazing? Learn more about how to effectively give and recieve candid employee feedback in our ebook below!


Free ebook! A Practical Guide to Giving and Receiving Employee Feedback With a Growth Mindset!



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