Why are women still scarce in leadership roles? Subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) gender bias persists in most workplaces. One of the ways this bias presents itself is through feedback. Leaders who give criticism without carefully considering the what and why often leave team members who don’t benefit from traditional power structures (read anyone who is not a white male) confused and excluded. Everyone is susceptible to giving bad feedback. If you don’t believe me check out this story of feedback gone awry. Even the most well-intentioned and well-trained managers are unable to grapple with the biased systems and processes our societies and workplaces have been operating under for decades.
You can train yourself and your team to give better feedback. With a little awareness, preparation and adjustment you can create a feedback system that promotes team retention of everyone.
Here are three ways to improve the feedback you give at the office:
1. Use a regular routine and process to give feedback. Set up regular times with your direct reports where feedback is given and received. Use a formulaic document with all of your reports at these meetings. There are hundreds of examples to try, or work with us to develop a form tailored to your organization. Systemize the process as much as possible.
2. Be specific. General phrases such as “You did a good job with that report” aren’t productive. Instead clearly state what was “good.” Did he use metrics clearly in the report? Did she respond to concerns in an empathetic way? Take time to spell out what exactly you thought was strong. When giving critical feedback think about where your the employee needs to build skills or which aspect she should focus on next.
3. Tie all feedback to business and goals outcomes. Before speaking up about a positive or negative behavior make sure you are clear how the feedback relates to your overall business goals. Did someone lead a team meeting effectively? Why does that matter to your business goal? Spell that reason out for your employee. Tying feedback to business outcomes keeps the conversation focused on the work and makes it harder for implicit bias to come into play.
Curious what a bad feedback session looks like? Read a personal account here.
Want help creating a feedback system that works? Heddy can help – email us today to learn more.