18 Apr 2021

4 practical techniques to improve how you give employee feedback

Some leaders find it easy while, for others, it’s something they dread. It’s the task of giving employee feedback. In the final piece of our two-part series, we offer some simple, practical techniques based on neuroscience to help you provide feedback to your team more successfully and effectively.

Why mindset matters

As you may recall from our previous article, taking a traditional approach when giving employee feedback is likely to put your employees in an ‘away’ state. (Recap our discussion about why neuroscience matters here.)

In an ‘away’ mindset, people are more likely to be defensive – even if we attempt to sandwich our more constructive comments around positive feedback. Unsurprisingly, this type of mental state is counterproductive for learning and change.

In contrast, using a technique that encourages a ‘toward’ state means your team are more likely to be open to adopting the suggestions you may make.

Practical ways to make your feedback effective

Here are four simple strategies to help offset an ‘away’ state tendency and promote a ‘toward’ mindset.

  1. 1. Use the opportunities of self-directed feedback

As we practice providing ourselves with feedback, we build self-awareness. In this ‘toward’ state, we are more able to accurately reflect our own learning, growth and strengths. This approach also minimises the status threat of you, as a leader, giving the feedback and avoids negatively affecting the rapport you have with your team.

  1. 2. Encourage a future-focus

Traditionally, we so often focus on problems and the past. We may ruminate about the issue and, often, whose fault it was. In contrast, feed-forward techniques encourage us to focus on what we want to achieve. This approach encourages fresh thinking, helping drive a burst of energy in the form of positive neurochemicals such as dopamine.

  1. 3. Get into the habit of noticing when people do things right

We often only pay attention to things when they go wrong, and then attempt to provide corrective feedback. But what about when things are going well? People need to understand which particular behaviours are useful at work. Leaders who use specific positive feedback help their team learn and embed new thinking.

  1. 4. Follow-up

The follow-up stage is just as important. This ensures you’re focusing people on the new behaviours you want to be achieved, supporting them in the creation of new habits – and helping minimise the likelihood of them slipping back into their hardwired default patterns.

Supporting you on your leadership journey

At Mantle, we’re a trusted partner of some of New Zealand’s biggest corporations and help guide them to achieve the best possible leadership development outcomes. If you’re seeking expert advice and strategies to help your organisation thrive, get in touch with us now for a no obligation consultation.

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