Constructive feedback is one of the best tools managers and team leaders can provide to their staff. When given effectively, feedback can drive individual and business success.
More than just a communication tool, the provision of constructive feedback is the foundation of growth and improvement within an organization. Regular feedback clarifies expectations, helps individuals learn from their mistakes, understand their strengths, and identify areas needing improvement.
While feedback lays the groundwork, SMART objectives provide the roadmap towards tangible achievements. Most of us are likely familiar with the SMART framework and the importance of ensuring that objectives are achievable and realistic so that individuals do not feel like they are being set up for failure. As long as these targets are challenging yet reasonable, having specific targets and deadlines can aid in achieving small victories.
It can be all too easy to overlook our abilities, especially within a busy work environment. Therefore, it is vital that team leaders are aware of the strengths and limitations of their team. Never assume that individuals know their strengths, try to point them out as often as possible and nurture their talent. When things are going well, it’s important to not become too complacent when offering feedback. Allowing time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ is vital to building employee confidence and encouraging a culture in which employees can nurture and support each other.
Project milestones – no matter how small- should also be celebrated. When the team achieves a breakthrough with a piece of work, or successfully completes the stage of a project, marking the occasion with a team dinner or a small office social event may help boost morale and reinforce a sense of appreciation. Sometimes a simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ is an effective way of marking these small victories.
The opposite approach of an all-or-nothing stance and setting a distant goal can have a negative impact on motivation. Of course, the end goal is important - having a direction in mind when setting a target is always advised – but there needs to be a sense of progress throughout a project to sustain enthusiasm and motivate the team. It is also important for team managers to be aware that ‘small victories’ look different for different people. It may vary depending on their job roles and even if you don’t necessarily understand the personal significance of these little breakthroughs, sharing your team member’s enthusiasm at these mini successes can be rewarding.
Like all things, practice makes perfect. When providing feedback to staff never underestimate the significance of a ‘thank you’ for a job well done.