Why is it so hard for managers to give feedback at work?

Providing constructive feedback can be one of the most challenging tasks for managers. Many tend to avoid these conversations because they fear discomfort, conflict, or damaging relationships. However, avoiding feedback can lead to unresolved issues, decreased performance, and a lack of growth within your team.

So, how can managers overcome these challenges and deliver effective feedback?

Why is giving constructive feedback so difficult?

Managers often hesitate to provide feedback due to several reasons:

  1. Fear of Conflict: Many managers worry that giving feedback will lead to confrontation, damaging their relationship with the employee.
  2. Personal Discomfort: Some managers feel uncomfortable delivering feedback because they lack confidence in their ability to handle the conversation effectively.
  3. Concern for the Employee’s Feelings: Managers may avoid giving feedback to spare the employee’s feelings, fearing they will feel criticised or demotivated.

However, it’s crucial to remember that constructive feedback is essential for growth and improvement.

STOP avoiding conversations with team members

Avoidance doesn’t solve problems; it only delays them. Ask yourself:

  1. Why are you avoiding the conversation? Is it because you think it’s too hard or the team member will feel uncomfortable, or is it really about your discomfort in having the conversation?
  2. Do you respect the team member? Do they deserve to have feedback?
  3. If you were in the same position, would you want the feedback?
  4. How has your relationship or perception of them changing as a result of not giving feedback?

These questions can help you understand your hesitations and encourage you to take the necessary steps to provide feedback.

2 quick tools to help Managers structure feedback

  1. SBI/BI Model (Situation-Behaviour-Impact/Behaviour-Impact): This model helps structure your feedback in a clear and objective manner. Describe the Situation where the behaviour occurred, the specific Behaviour you observed, and the Impact this behaviour had on the team or project. This approach focuses on observable actions and their consequences, reducing the likelihood of the conversation feeling personal or accusatory.
  2. Learning Loop: This method involves a continuous cycle of action, feedback, and reflection. Encourage your team members to see feedback as a regular part of their development process rather than a one-time event. This helps create an open and constructive environment where feedback is valued and utilised for growth.

How do you prepare for the feedback conversation?

Effective feedback conversations require preparation. Why?  Because you actually want it to be impactful.  Surely, you don’t want to waste an opportunity.

Here are some tips:

  1. Be Prepared: Know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.
  2. Avoid Jumping In: Don’t rush into the conversation; take time to frame your thoughts.
  3. Stay Away from Arguing the Point: Focus on the facts and the impact rather than debating who is right or wrong.
  4. Listen and Be Present: Show that you value the team member’s perspective and are open to their input.

By embracing these strategies and tools, you can overcome the barriers to giving feedback and foster a more productive and positive work environment. Remember, constructive feedback is not just a managerial duty; it’s an opportunity for growth and improvement for both you and your team.

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