As employers we surround ourselves with staff that have differentskills to us, but our responsibility as leaders is to provide a workplaceenvironment where they can expand and grow those skills. This has the benefitof our people enjoying their work and has a net benefit to the business as awhole. It always translates into increasedprofitability for the business and business owners.
But there are some very specific do’s and don’ts aroundproviding that environment for workplace improvement, and the feedback that yougive can either create great outcomes for the employee or just really stallthem in terms of their improvement.
So this is how you help your people thrive:
Firstly, it’s all in the language, so essentially criticalfeedback is entirely unproductive. Critical feedback is perceived as a threat,and it actually impairs learning rather than enables it. So when you try to help an employee in areasto improve you need to think about different language. Instead of saying, “Can I give you some feedback”, whichstraight away comes across as a negative, you are looking for a different wayto frame language like that, so you might say “look here’s the way I see that”,so straight away you’re reframing the way you give the feedback so that itdoesn’t come across as a critical.
Instead of saying, ‘here’s what you did wrong’, you couldsay, ‘these are the three things that really worked for me when I did that taskor when I tried to get that outcome’.
Instead of saying ‘’here’s what you should do’, you could say‘here’s what I would do’, so the language is framing an environment foropenness in receiving information, rather than closing their mind.
Instead of saying ‘here’s what you need to improve’, say‘here’s what worked best for me and here’s why’.
Or if their communication is not great you could say…’it wasat this point that you started to lose me’, ‘
So, you can see that the message you are communicating is thesame but the angle you are coming from is completely changed and opens theemployee up to learning.
We are often told that you need to get someone out of theircomfort zone to learn or to be challenged and grow, but the research actuallysuggests the exact opposite, you have got to try and grow people from insidetheir comfort zone. If you take people outside their comfort zone, their brainstops paying attention to anything other than surviving the experience, forexample; of potentially being belittled or told or what they did wrong andthere’s no learning going on whatsoever.
So the best outcomes for employee growth and improvement andlearning are creating an environment where the employee feels comfortable, andthen adding to their knowledge base whilst in a place of comfort, then you willfind that they are very open. When they are open, their minds are creative,insightful and productive and that’s where feedback is the most effective interms of moving employees forward in their knowledge and understanding of the learningthey need to achieve the best outcomes.
Adapted HBR March 2019Buckingham & Goodall