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How to Give Feedback Effectively during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Feedback is critical for employee growth, and despite the fact that feedback can be somewhat awkward or uncomfortable to give, the majority of employees crave regular feedback on their performance. Given the ramifications that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on organizations and on employment prospects, employees are seeking a clear understanding of "where they stand" with regards to their job performance. 

During this period of remote work,  many employees and teams no longer experience the same in-person interaction that normally occurs in an office environment. This makes it more difficult to both give feedback and to understand feedback.  Since feedback often happens organically following in-person collaboration, managers may be giving feedback less frequently than they normally would. Since employees are no longer able to rely on context cues such as voice tone, body language, and facial expressions, it can be harder to interpret feedback. Because of these obstacles, it's more critical than ever for managers to deliver feedback clearly and effectively. 

 

Tips for Managers: How to Give Effective Feedback 

1. Give feedback more frequently.  
Employees have a strong desire to know where they stand in times of uncertainty, especially if there is a chance of a reduction in force, furloughs, or other employment actions that might impact them. Add reminders to your calendar to make sure you are giving feedback to each team member at least once a week.

2. Focus on performance and outcomes. 
Be sure that the feedback that you're giving is focused on the employee's job performance, particularly specific actions and work outcomes, rather than personality traits or personal situations. If your employee is a parent of young children or is otherwise in a care-giving role, these responsibilities are almost certainly having an impact on what their day to day looks like. As a manager, it's important to focus on the outcomes of the employee's efforts, as opposed to how and when the work is getting done (e.g., try not to focus on whether an employee is spending time working in the evenings instead of working 8:00am-5:00pm). Do your best not to let  circumstances  that are outside of your employees' control color the feedback that you give. 

3. Provide both positive and constructive feedback. 
When giving feedback to your employees, it's important to speak to both the areas that the employee is doing well and areas for growth. Ask yourself the following questions when you're preparing to give feedback to your employees:

Which areas of their work need improvement?
Which areas are they doing really well or excelling in? 
How can they take those areas of success further?
What challenges can they tackle next? 

4. Be clear and specific. 
This guideline applies both to feedback and to the general guidance you provide as a manager. When giving constructive feedback, make sure to be explicit about your expectations and/or what needs to be improved. When you're discussing projects and goals, make sure that you are clear on what needs to be done and when. Providing clarity around timelines is especially important now, as priorities and projects may be in flux a result of the current environment. 

5. Give employees the opportunity to ask questions. 
Once you've given feedback to an employee, ensure that they both have time to process the feedback that you've given them and that they have the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions. Consider scheduling a follow up video call to make sure your employee is tracking with your feedback and to give them the opportunity to ask questions. 

6. Empower all members of the team to give Feedback in real time.  
As a manager, giving regular feedback to your employees is important, but it's not sufficient in itself. A robust feedback culture is one that encourages feedback to be given between peers, and from employees to managers, in addition to from a manager to an employee. Within Quantum Workplace, Admin users can enable the option to Give Feedback and Request Feedback to allow employees across the organization to give and request feedback from their colleagues as they see fit. This will allow employees to give feedback in real time, which is a best practice.