Giving Meaningful Feedback During a Pandemic
I am a firm believe that meaningful feedback conversations do actually have value. Sometimes leaders find providing meaningful feedback challenging and uncomfortable. In my feedback course for front line leaders, I often hear them speak of performance conversations as difficult. The conversation ends up being more about high level information sharing than an honest dialogue that provides insight and practical actions that help both the leader and employee move forward.
The on-going pandemic can make providing feedback in a timely and meaningful way feel even more awkward than usual. Meaningful feedback conversations are those that evaluate performance, show appreciation and coach an employee or team. These conversations are even more critical during this prolonged, and even permanent way of remote working.
There are 3 things leaders can focus on to share meaningful feedback that is clear, creates connection and impact:
- Understand and Use the Titanium Rule
- Focus on Career Development
Understand and Use the Titanium Rule
Unlike the Golden Rule that says we should do unto others, as you would have them to unto you, the Titanium Rule says we should do unto others, as they need to be treated. In the context of giving feedback during a pandemic, it means that we need to observe and understand what is important to the employee or team receiving the feedback so that it can have the desired impact.
- Ask what works best for the employee. Many of us are juggling responsibilities from home so schedule the conversation to allow adequate time to focused reflection and for sharing.
- Set up a virtual meeting instead of a phone call whenever possible. This enables both leader and employee to read body language and understand context. Face to face meetings are even better if they can be done safely.
- Be willing to give and receive compassion. This past year has been challenging for everyone.
Staying connected to employee performance virtually can be challenging. Real time touch points on work specifics or projects might not be as easy as they used to be. Make a point to connect frequently so that employees have access to the information and guidance they need when they need it.
- Schedule regular one-on-one time to maintain connection and commitment to the work at hand. Never underestimate the value of keeping in touch. It is more important now than ever.
- Quick calls or texts especially if you are sharing appreciative feedback, are also ways you can provide timely coaching, direction and support.
Stay visible and check in to maintain your team’s health and productivity. Meaningful feedback conversations happen when they are focused and happen regularly.
Focus on Career Development
Some employees are more productive and feel better being able to continue working remotely. Others will continue to find it difficult to stay focused and contribute because they need to feel connected to their teams in a more tangible way to perform well.
No matter what type of working arrangement you have in place, focusing on individual career development is the way to engage and retain employees during the pandemic. In addition to sharing examples and observations, some questions or points you can use in your own conversations could include:
- What have you learned over the last year? What would you like to learn or get better at?
- Where in our current work plan or projects do you think you can develop those skills further?
- What would you like me to know about your future goals in this role or company?
Clarity, connection and the ability to create impact in daily work are greatly needed by all workers to maintain focus and momentum. Even though we may be apart, showing compassion by using the Titanium Rule, connecting frequently and focusing on career development opportunities are ways to create meaning and results.