Although feeding back information sounds like a simple task, team leaders (who are in charge for the first time) generally have quite a bit of trouble with this. Giving feedback actually has a bit of a negative connotation, because it is often associated with giving criticism. And this is something that many team leaders struggle with! But it is a very important part of your duties as a people manager.
Feedback is inevitable if you want to align with your team and encourage your employees to make progress. In addition, feedback is an excellent way to strengthen the mutual bond of trust between you and your employees.
Personal attention leads to a greater sense of involvement
It’s not necessary here to explain that paying attention to another person is a positive action (take a look at the article called “The importance of personal attention for each team member”). Various studies have ably demonstrated that cuddling babies, for example, has an enormously positive influence on their general sense of well-being. What’s even more fascinating is the discovery that these cuddles can lead to the brains of babies and young children developing better and more quickly.
Of course, this does not mean that you must go and hug every team member spontaneously; physical contact in the office is not a positive action!
Giving positive feedback to your employees can be seen by analogy as cuddling babies. Babies can’t talk yet, which is why parents often rely on non-verbal communication such as cuddling. Fortunately, adults do have an extensive vocabulary, which you can use to ensure others receive personal attention. Communication is a means par excellence to make others feel that they are recognised and appreciated. And people who are valued will exhibit a much higher degree of involvement within the organisation.
In 2013-2014, IBM conducted an extensive study into factors that can contribute to employee motivation. More than 19,000 people from 26 different countries participated in the survey and one of the most striking results was the importance of recognition:
“(The survey) revealed that the level of engagement of employees who receive recognition is almost three times higher than the level of engagement of those who do not”. In short, engagement can only be fostered if you yourself are actively involved in your team.
Criticism is also about engagement!
Unfortunately, in our society, there is still such a big taboo surrounding failure that we actually try to get rid of everything that is related to it. Criticism is part of it. But what one forgets, is that failure is an intrinsic part of learning and of the growth process. We can’t move forward without first falling down; a baby will fall down many times before he or she finally masters the art of walking.
As adults, and especially in a professional context, we forget that we once perceived trial and error to be the norm and we constantly try to do everything perfectly. But perfection doesn’t exist – the only thing you can strive for is excellence. And excellence also includes failure, because failure is about learning and so without failure, there is no growth.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
When, as a manager, you see an employee fail, it is important that you recognise this as a step in his or her growth process. It’s a natural situation that you, as a manager, can immediately steer in the right direction by providing the employee with constructive criticism that will help him or her to stay afloat next time. Look at it from this perspective… giving feedback no longer has any negative connotations!
The ‘criticism’ becomes a handle for your team member to hold on to, a form of attention focused on future growth. By offering this handle, you are showing commitment and by showing commitment, you motivate your employees.
Giving feedback revives your team
Whatever sector you work in as a manager or team leader, feedback is a part of your job package that can lead to a happy, close and motivated team. By giving feedback, you can share your wishes and objectives, while at the same time, give your employees the feeling that you want to pay attention to them. This will only increase the mutual feeling of trust, therefore making your work as a team leader a lot easier and more pleasant.
So don’t forget that everything starts with you: if you are a fantastic people manager, you will attract a fantastic team.
Best of luck!
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