Long ago, I volunteered at a summer camp that taught leadership skills. One of those skills we worked on developing as camp staff was providing effective feedback, or as we put it, how to criticize your friends – and still keep them. The first lesson we learned: start by saying something nice or positive. Here’s a little more from the Pine Tree Web about the basis for effective evaluation:
The process of evaluation helps to set and maintain standards of performance, to measure progress, to identify areas for improvement, to recognize achievement, and to motivate.
These skills have served me professionally as well. As a manager it is important to balance your (high) expectations of employees and their morale. It is also wise to understand the strengths of your team members. Even if two people have the same title/job does that mean they should both be doing identical work? Understanding their strengths and weaknesses (and your own, for that matter) will allow you to give better feedback, positive or negative.
One other major leadership lesson I took from my camp days was to set the example. How can you expect someone do meet your expectations, if you don’t do the same in your own actions?
I was reminded of the importance of effective evaluation and feedback this week when Geoffrey James of Inc. posted “10 Smart Rules for Giving Negative Feedback.” His rule No. 5 sounds familiar: “5. Start with an honest compliment.” As does No. 9: “Coach the behaviors you would like to see.”
Take a look at a few more of his tips:
1. Make negative feedback unusual.
2. Don’t stockpile negative feedback.
4. Don’t email negative feedback.
8. Ask questions that drive self-evaluation.
And along with rule No. 10 (Be willing to accept feedback), let us know your thoughts, and how you like to give or receive negative feedback in the comments.