As the business leader of a high-functioning project team, you must do all you can to facilitate a feedback-rich culture. Of course, this is often easier said than done. Many professionals find it difficult to process criticism. Even thick-skinned executives with decades of experience get a bit defensive when confronted with their deficiencies, no matter how small.
Luckily, there are myriad tried-and-true strategies for overcoming this obstacle. Before you schedule your next round of one-to-one meetings, be sure to look over these methods for doling out constructive feedback:
Set Realistic Expectations
At some point, you will have to discuss performance issues with an individual contributor you believe to be unflappable. In reality, this simply isn’t the case, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Direct feedback is unsettling to virtually everyone – that is why it’s so effective. Constructive criticism prompts reflection and, hopefully, change. However, you must prepare for the initial blowback your comments may cause.
“Even thick-skinned executives with get a bit defensive when confronted with their deficiencies.”
When first confronted with feedback, most professionals go on the defensive and search for ways to disprove the criticism. With this in mind, set aside ample time to thoroughly discuss the feedback you plan to bring. Let the team member in question offer his or her perspective and calmly explain your rationale. If you do this tactfully, you can initiate a truly impactful interaction that will yield actionable insights and lead to real change.
Sometimes, team leaders attempt to give feedback in group settings, intending to foster collaboration and strengthen bonds between contributors. As you can imagine, this methodology usually doesn’t pan out. Those at the center of these interventions often leave feeling humiliated, Harvard Business Review reported.
To avoid this, meet with the team member in private. This will give him or her space to process the information. Additionally, be sure to choose your words wisely. Stay away from overly critical expressionsthat could potentially hurt the team member, Entrepreneur advised. Some experts suggest starting off with an obvious yet effective phrase like, “I have some feedback for you.”
Before you call in a team member to deliver feedback, gather the detailed performance data you need to support your assertions and prepare to share it. This will make it easier to deal with defensiveness and allow you to give your employee specific actions he or she can take to improve the situation.
If after providing individualized feedback you feel your team could use more collaborative professional development resources, consider contacting the Corporate Learning Institute. We offer the Team Assess Survey, an exhaustive team-focused performance evaluation designed to account for key variables such as team output, team effectiveness, team leadership, team infrastructure, individual contributions and organizational support.
Contact us to help you with any other questions you may have.