When do you give feedback as a manager?

Employee Relations
21 Oct 2022

Feedback is important in everyone’s career. When a person is pointed out their flaws, or if they are told that their work can improve, they try to better their best. However, why feedback is important in a professional setup is not only because people want to improve.

Feedback is given because it is essential that we understand each other’s ways of working. We must also understand how to collaborate together to perform more effectively.

But, giving feedback as a manager is no easy task. It depends on who the person is, what kind of feedback you are giving them, what mental state they are in, etc. These factors count when giving feedback to an employee.

Determining the right timing is crucial. It has a big impact on how likely the person is going to change their behavior based on your feedback, going forward.

Let’s look at a few ways using which we can get better at giving feedback.

Ask your employee first

The first and most basic thing that we should do as managers is to find out when the person would want to receive feedback.

It doesn’t come intuitively for most managers to think of the other person’s preference, however, it must be put into practice. People have their own inclinations as to when they want feedback, how they communicate and when they are comfortable.

When you ask them when they want feedback, you are giving them a choice to choose when would be a good time. This will open them to any improvements you might need to point out.

Maybe, your employee may have been given disastrous feedback from a previous manager. Because of this, the idea of feedback itself makes them nervous.

As a manager, you must take into account your employee’s well-being before initiating a feedback session.

Whatever their experience may be, as a manager, you must figure out what their expectations are concerning feedback and go around this.

Say it as it is when it is

The best time to give feedback is instantly after something has happened. The longer you wait after the moment has passed, the longer it affects the way they act and the way you think around them.

Delaying feedback hinders performance and is a bane to learning because this does not allow for course-correction. When you delay giving feedback, it leaves you frustrated. Let's assume something happens and you don't say it. You are thinking “No need to bring it up now”. This gives the person at fault a chance to say “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” when you actually do tell them.

However, telling them instantly does not mean yelling out loud whenever there is something even the slightest bit to say. You do not have to reprimand them, all you need to do is make sure your tone remains strictly professional.

Weigh your options. Think of what would happen if you didn’t tell them, and examine if this will hinder performance for the person in the future. Remember, giving such feedback in small doses is always better than throwing the entire bundle at them unprepared.

Bigger the feedback, the more time you take while delivering it

What if you’re in a situation where the feedback might not necessarily be a quick chat? Your employee has made a mistake, and you will need to address this; however, it won’t be quick at all.

It’s a sensitive issue. This is because heavy feedback will need to be given when both you and the person is in an understanding state of mind. So, this cannot be stated just when walking past one another or during chai break. This will need a fixed time and a confined space within which the two of you can have a conversation.

One-On-One meetings are best for this scenario. This is because it creates a space where you can deliver your thoughts to the person. It also gives no room for any other distraction or small talk. There is an inherent seriousness within a space like that, and the seriousness comes in handy when giving them a bit of harsh feedback.

It would be ideal to give feedback when the person is more receptive to what you have to say. When your employee is tired or in a bad mood, feedback at that time would not be ideal as they could perceive it defensively.

And this is something we all understand. When we’re feeling a bit down, we certainly don’t want anyone telling us something we did was wrong or putting us further down.

Our emotions play a big part in how to respond to external stimuli. Feedback is one of the most volatile external stimuli there are.

Let them know why you’re giving them feedback

Whenever you choose to give your employee feedback, it’s always best to state why you are choosing to give them feedback at the moment.

This is because if you want to change the person’s behavior, your feedback must let them know how much you want to support them.

If you’re giving feedback to an employee about their behavior, tell them something like this:

“I want you to present yourself better and look good. I want to give you this feedback so you can prepare and present yourself better in the next meeting.”

If the feedback is about their performance, you can tell them that you are giving them feedback because you see potential in them.

Always remember that the timing is crucial. It depends on certain elements that determines a person's reception to feedback. It also depends on how a person does not sound authoritative when delivering the feedback.

You must nail the right timing and ask what your employee prefers. This is so you ensure that the feedback that you are delivering can create a good difference.

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