High-performing leaders embrace continuous feedback

When continuous feedback is a part of your standard operating procedures, you will build a more robust culture with open communication and employees who understand and demonstrate your organization’s values.

Those organizational qualities are directly related to retention, engagement and productivity because when your employees feel they are part of the larger system, they welcome your feedback and understand how to best represent the organization.

Your clear and consistent feedback helps your employees stay more connected and engaged. It supports them in building their skills and abilities and should be used to encourage their professional development and recognize their efforts.

Everyone wants to be recognized when they make a big effort, and positive feedback proves to be a powerful motivational driver.

5 tips for giving effective feedback.

If you are hesitant to give feedback, especially when it may be taken negatively, keep in mind that employees want to know if they are on the right track. They want to be appreciated and noticed when they are doing well and given opportunity to course-correct when they are going down the wrong path.

Lack of feedback breeds frustration and leads to communication disconnects, while effective feedback builds connections and increases engagement.

To increase your effectiveness in providing feedback:

  1. Celebrate publicly. When an employee has excelled, made a significant effort, or demonstrated their commitment, publicly celebrate and acknowledge them. Allow the whole team to see such an acknowledgment and celebrate together. Let your employee be in the spotlight for a moment. Even a verbal “pat on the back” can go a long way. Many leaders underestimate the value of their acknowledgment for a job well done. Positive reinforcement not only encourages the employee who receives it, but it is something they will remember. It motivates the rest of the team to excel.
    At some point, everyone wants to be recognized and recognized for their hard work and talent. Your public comments clearly show that excellence and effort are important, noticeable and well-known. Schedule a private meeting if you want to provide additional feedback, such as how else they can improve.
  2. Criticize alone. Don’t set an example in front of others. Schedule a private meeting. Public shaming is never acceptable. This does not benefit you or the organization as it closes the doors of open communication and creates a psychologically unsafe environment for all. Public shaming is toxic, abusive and degrading. So if you’re giving an employee negative feedback, and you know the information may be embarrassing or uncomfortable, give them the courtesy you expect. Be respectful not only in how you present the information, but also where the conversation takes place.
  3. Tell them your intentions. Let them know that you are happy to have the opportunity to provide feedback, and that you hope they will take the information and use it to grow the company, advance in the company, or improve their skills. Make it clear that you intend to be helpful, not judgmental or critical. You want to support them in being the best they can be, thus the response. You can also start by saying something positive like appreciating their effort and thanking them for meeting you.
  4. be specific. Your response should be clear, respectful, data- or experience-based, and thoughtful. You want your employee to leave the meeting knowing that you were not only critical but were providing valuable information to help them do better. Explain your expectations for the project or their role in the company. Wherever possible discuss mistakes using relevant and recent examples. Help them understand the consequences of error or miscommunication, such as delays in delivery, increased stress, or unnecessary conflict.
  5. Give constructive suggestions. You should not discuss a problem without giving some instructions or advice. You can provide solutions or suggestions or brainstorm together, but don’t leave anything in their lap and move on to the next item on the agenda. If, for some reason, there isn’t a solution, state it as a fact and perhaps mention your frustration about that outcome. Show support by talking to them so they understand their role and how to move forward. Be open to hearing their point of view as it can help prevent future errors.

When you provide sensitive feedback to your employees thoughtfully and constructively, you set the tone for the entire organization. You help build trust. And then your employees will give you the benefit of the doubt that your feedback is never going to hurt, but only to help them learn and improve. Providing consistent feedback to your team builds a culture of trust, open communication and greater engagement.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.