Giving and receiving feedback is a critical part of maintaining our working relationships. We need to know what we are doing well and where we are falling short so we can continue to do more of the good and adjust where we are missing the mark. We also need to communicate this to others so they can do the same. When we fail to give or receive feedback well, we will frustrate those around us and will be frustrated by others around us.
In American business, the traditional way a business leader gives feedback is through performance reviews. Often these are associated with stress and frustration, which should lead one to wonder if their business’s method of conducting these reviews is as productive as it could be.
A couple of things to consider: how often do you give feedback, do you share with employees what they are doing well along with what they could improve on, and do you allow others to share feedback with you as you lead?
As Christians in business, we have an opportunity to show the love of Christ in the way we give and receive feedback with those who work with us.
“Performance Review” is usually preceded by the word, “Annual.” However, if you are only doing performance reviews annually, you are missing out on the value in giving real time feedback. Annual feedback is frustrating to employees who realize their employer has been unhappy with an element of their work for months and they are just now realizing it due to a formality of a review.
Most employees prefer to receive feedback as soon as possible, after a project is complete or even before that if there is an opportunity for them to correct before the project’s completion. Your feedback might seem vague if you wait to give it to them, as the details of the events may not be clear in their memory, and it probably won’t be as clear in your own anymore to have a constructive conversation about it.
If you are hesitant to provide critical feedback to your employees, think about why this might be.
Are you uncomfortable sharing critical feedback? Have employees responded in unfavorable ways when you have given critical feedback, so you are cautious in doing so?
Sharing critiques is never fun, but sharing the truth is the loving thing to do so we need to make it part of our leadership.
Consider how you might improve on speaking the truth in love regardless of how comfortable you are in sharing this type of feedback. Sharing hard truth that comes across rude, demeaning, belittling, or humiliating is never loving. Take time to think through how to share critical feedback most respectfully before having the conversation.
Your goal for sharing critical feedback should be to help your employees be the best version of themselves at work so you both serve each other’s needs. If most of your employees don’t sense that in how you critique their work, you may want to learn more about delivering this news effectively.
How often are you affirming what your employees are doing well?
It’s important to be in a habit of affirming the people around you. They will trust you more when you have critical feedback, as they know you see the good work they are doing too. If an employee only hears what they are doing wrong they might begin to grow bitter towards your feedback or feel like they aren’t doing anything right in your eyes, which makes it more difficult to receive critical feedback. Your employees should hear more commendation than criticism if you hope for them to respond thoughtfully to your critiques.
When you have critical feedback to share, it’s often helpful to start by affirming what they are doing well before leading into what you would like to see improve. You should never be stingy on affirming those around you!
Do you allow employees to provide feedback on your performance?
As the business leader, show your employees that their feedback on your leadership is important to you, and you’re willing to improve as needed as well. Showing humility in recognizing to others that you have your areas of weakness as well creates a culture in your company of continued improvement and the grace that we can extend to allow each other to be imperfect humans. Lead in how to give and receive feedback by applying feedback to your own work and leadership.
Much of this can also be applied to personal relationships… Stay tuned for part 2 on the importance of giving and receiving feedback in personal relationships and what Scripture says on the subject.