I launched Feedback about a year ago and I'm still struggling with it. I avoid confrontation so this is not easy for me. I started off good with positive feedback, but then i get swamped with work and find that I don't have any positive feedback to share because I'm so busy I barely see my directs. Then something will happen that makes me want to give negative feedback and i'm really uncomfortable giving the negative feedback because I've fallen off the wagon. 

Can someone give advice about how I can be more diligent about giving feedback, and how I can reduce the stress involved so I can continue to provide regular feedback. I'm a conflict-avoiding people pleaser so this is really a struggle for me. 



NLewis's picture

Largely for the same reasons I struggle with negative feedback as well.  My focus is on measurables and outcomes.  So long as deliverables are on point I don't get too worked up about other behaviours.  There's a part of me that knows I should, for example, give feedback when I notice a direct in a 30-minute personal conversation with a fellow employee during business hours.  But if their deliverables are on point and it's a rare occurance I'll typically let it slide. 

My other favorite is when a co-worker from outside my department comes to me with a complaint about a direct's behavior.  "They spend too much time on the internet."  or "They're smoking too close to the front door."  I have one complaint from one person.  That's not a pattern of behavior.  I KNOW I should say something though.  Even if it's just to let my direct know that perception is out there.  But if it's not a pattern, and especially if I haven't observed it myself (admittedly my head is usally in my work), I find it deuce difficult to address it.  It almost feels petty.

Often I'll address these sorts of things obliquely in and O3.  But that's not immediate feedback.  So I'm open to suggestions too!



mrreliable's picture

I would suggest that as a manager, avoiding conflict is a negative behavior.

The feedback podcast has one of the best tips for management I've ever heard. Management is like driving a car. On your way to the destination, you'll make hundreds or thousands of very small adjustments in steering along the way. If you don't make those tiny adjustments, you'll end up with a catastrophe with your car in the ditch.

That's not to say you shouldn't have a threshold. Obviously you don't want to spend all your time giving feedback to directs for every little thing. You need to have some flexibility. On the other hand, you don't want to get into a situation where a behavior is becoming an ever-larger problem, but you avoid saying anything because you have let it go on for so long.

Personally, my threshold is whether I think I'll be concerned about the behavior tomorrow. If I can forget about it, I let it go.

SDK5899's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

" I'm a conflict-avoiding people pleaser so this is really a struggle for me. "

I'm the same way, and I struggle with these same things. Perhaps the three of us should form some sort of a support group!

Here's some tips that I've learned that help me on being more diligent with giving regular feedback:

  1. Become a premium content subscriber and use the roadmap tool in the app to track your feedbacks.
  2. If work is distracting you from giving feedback (which is some of the most important work that we do), assign/delegate more to your directs, and then give feedback on the performance to the tasks.
  3. Do you have the opportunity to check your directs work product? There are lots of feedback opportunities there.
  4. Go to meetings or presentations with your directs, let them do most of the talking, and evaluate their performance.
  5. Do you have safety standards around your workplace? Always give feedback to those who follow safety standards.
  6. Put some time on your calendar to check the status of your directs tasks. Are they on time? Late? Do they communicate status well? More opportunities and you've carved out time for it.
  7. Commit to getting good at it! Stick with it! Do not give up! Eventually it becomes more second nature to you and you can give feedback very spontaneously and without much thought. This will snowball into more feedback.
  8. Over time you go through a process where you "learn to see" as I call it. You will observe behavior and your brain will link up that this should be a feedback. It takes a lot of time however; at least for me it has!

That said, I am still not where I want to be with my feedbacks and I've been at it for a couple of years. My highest week is 18 feedbacks; well short of my weekly goal of 25, but a lot more than most managers do.

Regarding the reducing stress of giving negative feedback:

  1. I've found that as I give so much positive feedback, giving negative is in the minority so it makes it easier and the directs are more receptive.
  2. Do your directs sometimes do things right and sometimes not? If you can't get yourself to ask for change, at least give positive feedback when they do it right. This is not as effective as negative feedback and positive feedback, but it's better than nothing.
  3. If you're like me, you try to say yes to everything and help everybody out as much as you can. You have to think of negative feedback as the best way to help your directs in that particular circumstance. If your direct can improve their performance then that helps them in the long run. Also, it makes things better for the rest of your team as well. Often in times where I have to confront a direct I try to think about the impact to the rest of the team if I do not proceed with something that should be confronted. How will the rest of the team feel? For those of us that are high 'S' and care about such things, it can be helpful to mentally frame the encounter this way to combat the inevitable anxiety that comes.

Again, as before, I'm not an expert and could stand to be a lot better. I still find myself shying away from situations that I perceive as confrontational, but in the times that I've had success, these have helped me.



jeniqdickens's picture

Now this is helpful. Thank you!! 

P.S. Yes for the support group-- we could hold each other accountable. :)  I'm on day 3 of this week and I've still given nothing this week. :( 

NLewis's picture

I've never thought to track feedback or set a goal for it.  I will give it a shot!

The big stuff I've got a handle on.  My department is the only one with 100% attendance and we're the only department that is consistently "condition green" on deliverables.  I just have a bad habit of ignoring the water-cooler stuff - the minor corrections.  If it's a measurable or has to do with company objectives I'm all over it.  If it's a small personal behaviorism I tend to think, "Is this a pattern of behavior and if so can it significantly impact the company?"  If so I address it in an O3 with specific measurables.  If not I too-often think, "We've got work to do.  Why bother with it?"

Because it's my job.  It's what managers do.  And I need to do it better.  This is why I'm grateful for the Manager Tools community.  You keep me honest.

jeniqdickens's picture

The Manger Tools product called Roadmap gives you a nifty way to track feedback and one-on-ones. That's how/why we track. 

WritePaper's picture

It is very useful! Thank you for this topic.

jeniqdickens's picture

OK, it's Monday. What are your goals for feedback today? I'm shooting for at least 2 positives. 

SDK5899's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I'd like to hit 15 this week; 3 per day. I was on this pace a few weeks back and I fell off, so I would like to get back there. I got 11 last week, 8/3 pos/neg. Mondays usually start slow for me, but this week I've got a number that I could give. This is one of my problems: I recognize the ability to give feedback, and I sit with it in my mind until later. I walk through the conversation in my mind a few times, adding no real value. I need to be more spontaneous and give feedbacks quicker. Anyone else?

jeniqdickens's picture

"This is one of my problems: I recognize the ability to give feedback, and I sit with it in my mind until later. I walk through the conversation in my mind a few times, adding no real value. I need to be more spontaneous and give feedbacks quicker."

I feel you!!!