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Strategies to Deliver Effective Employee Feedback

Leadership
Internal Communication
Feedback
Motivation
Strategy
Team Processes

18 January, 2022

Rachit Lohani
Rachit Lohani

Head of Engineering at Atlassian

Rachit Lohani, Head of Engineering at Atlassian, shares all his ideas and principles on providing feedback and avoiding discomfort while doing so.

Feedback vs. Unsolicited Advice

Providing feedback is an art.

A few years ago, when I worked at Netflix, we religiously practiced radical candor. The culture revolved around providing feedback to anyone, and they wouldn't get offended because of how the company was structured and the set of people being hired. Everyone was of high caliber, and any given day, if someone wanted to walk over to Google or Facebook, they'd find a job elsewhere. Providing feedback in that company was a very different exercise.

When I joined Intuit, the feedback exercise was utterly different, and not everyone was comfortable with it. As a result, there were misalignments. The survey results showed that teammates were directionless as they were not getting the right feedback. On the side of the coin, managers who provided constant feedback felt judged and micromanaged. The eNPS scores were in the 40s and 50s, which was very low for a growing company.

The feedback situation in these two cases are two different extremes — there is nothing in between. The problems began when people started getting disengaged.

Follow the Feedback Principles

The Theory of the Observer's Bias:

In any case, bring in a third person who can be referred to as the observer to differentiate between the systematic discrepancy. The third person can help you see what you expect to see or what you want to see. Perhaps you as the manager might be going wrong somewhere that you might fail to identify by yourself, and therefore, a third view might help you dig deeper.

The Theory of Mission Skillset:

We all know that people are like plants — when managers water them, their direct reports grow. However, the truth is that mango trees won't grow oranges and vice versa. Rather than just dropping feedback to teammates saying that "you need to learn MS Excel," when in reality, the individual is not fond of MS Excel could lead to a disaster. Instead, task them with tools that they are best at; be empathetic.

The Theory of Excellence: Create a 360-degree feedback loop — especially if you're the manager. As much as you're an expert in terms of giving out feedback, you should be equally willing to take feedback. In the end, it's all about how well everything is managed and how organized everything is in order to succeed as a team.

Don't Wait for a Quarterly Review:

Your teammates are likely to have the most significant impact on their performance following immediate feedback. Engagement levels will also peak when they receive feedback on a weekly cadence. Issues left unaddressed may multiply by the domino effect, and so the quarterly review may pose a host of problems that may have steer cleared from if mentioned earlier.

Besides, saving feedback also results in forgotten problems. Regular feedback reflects on recent works while aligning with individuals' workflow. Analyzing and tracking work saves time and energy on the manager's side.

Don't Underestimate the Power of Feedback.

  • Feedback is necessary for your direct report's growth and development; there is no way to skip it. Instead, use the right words and phrases to deliver feedback effectively, leading to communicative, collaborative, and high-performing cultures. Saying "here's my reaction," as opposed to "can I give you some feedback?" is a wiser move.
  • Managers want their direct reports to be excited about work and showcase their best selves at work.

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