Me: “Anil and Saurav, let’s discuss how we handled the call today. Could we do it immediately?”
Anil (Experience Team lead): “Sure, Mandar. Let’s do it now”.
Me: “Saurav, what do you think about the call today? Did it go well? What do you think?”
Saurav (Recently started leading the team): “I think it went okay. We covered the points, we wanted to. I stumbled at few places.”
Anil: “Not really. We had carved out the structure of the call in our meeting prior to the call. However, you were appearing not-so-confident while you were talking to the customer. For every sentence, you were looking at me for confirmation or you were asking “correct?”"
Me: “Yes, Anil is right. Even if you were making a statement, it was being posed as a question, leaving the person on the other end clueless”
Dialogs like this are not rare while handling a team, however, at the same time, I must say they are not so common as well. Many project managers make it a point to provide the feedback to the team members, and many keep on procrastinating. This post is to bring about some important aspects of sharing the feedback.
1. Chose correct time
It is important to provide the feedback at the right time and the right time is always “as soon as possible.” In the example above, I chose to discuss the feedback immediately after the call, because I wanted Saurav to start pondering about this immediately. If he does so, I can hope to see the change in next 3-4 calls, but if I don’t, then there’s no way Saurav would know about this as a problem and would continue to communicate in the same fashion.
2. Receptive minds
To have a positive impact of the feedback, the recipient needs to be in a state to receive the feedback. Not every individual is open to receive the feedback. The manager needs to take extra effort to bring that individual to a state of mind where he/she can understand the feedback. If this is done, only then you can expect some corrective action to happen. If the individual is not in receptive state, he/she may start arguing, defending or just close himself/herself and whatever is being told, would go down the drain.
The frequency for the feedback needs to be adjusted per individual. Some of them like to hear often than rest. While it is okay to fine tune the frequency per individual, it shouldn’t go below certain threshold.
It is equally important that you prepare yourself for providing the feedback. You need to have all the observations noted down for handy reference, or have all the examples handy with you. One needs to interwoven these examples in order to make the recipient understand the real essence of the feedback. The examples, in itself, can be debated individually, but when more than one such examples are considered, they show a pattern and which is very important to provide feedback on.
5. Strengths/Areas of improvements
Lot of management trainings emphasize on starting with positive points and to gel it with areas of improvement to achieve better results. However, in my personal experience, what matters is the rapport with the recipient. If your team knows that you praise them for all the good things done from time to time, I haven’t seen people complaining when only areas of improvements are conveyed to them. If you are working with a new person, new team, then probably mixing the positive points and improvements together will have more impact, but apart from that, it doesn’t really make much difference.