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How To Provide Effective Feedback to Staff

Feedback is a manager’s most powerful tool. It helps cement bonds, strengthen staff performance, and preserve culture

There is no other way to begin an article on effective feedback than to state its basic, underlying premise upfront. Effective feedback is a cornerstone of successful leadership and the responsibility for its success must be a top priority for facility managers.

From the moment a facility management professional assumes a leadership role, providing feedback to staff must become a regular agenda item. Feedback is the most direct and powerful tool a manager has in a leadership toolkit. It can cement the bond between employees and managers, strengthen overall staff performance, and preserve the organization’s culture.

There is nothing scarier for staff than to be summoned to the manager’s office for the dreaded, annual performance appraisal. This is a particularly daunting experience if there has been limited or no conversation throughout the year.

Feedback to staff needs to be an ongoing activity, not an annual event. For it to be effective, there must be an underlying foundation of trust between the staff and the manager. This layer of trust must be established the moment an individual assumes responsibility for direct reports. Forming a trust relationship paves the way for open and honest dialogue about how well staff is performing and actions that need to be implemented to bolster or correct performance issues.

Human Resource consultants advocate providing feedback immediately after an event occurs for it to have the most significant impact. Feedback can be as informal as a phone call to congratulate an individual on successful completion of a project, or it could be an impromptu virtual meeting to report on customer input from a service issue that was positively resolved.

While informal, in-person feedback achieves the best results — even a quick email or text message to thank staff for a job well done is better than no feedback at all. Less than positive feedback, however, always should be handled through an in-person conversation.

Opportunities to publicly showcase staff success with peers, senior management and customers can provide a rich feedback scenario, assuming facility management staff feel positive about public recognition. Praising the team on internal websites and at corporate gatherings has been mentioned by facility staff as some of the most successful forms of feedback a manager can provide. This could be for implementing a new system that streamlines customer interaction or reduces overall costs. Again, the public accolades should only be done if staff welcomes it. For some staff members, private praise rather than a public announcement is a more desirable form of feedback.

Guidance on frequency of formal feedback sessions varies with the number of direct reports a manager has, the experience of the staff, the sophistication of self-directed work teams, and the overall corporate environment. At a minimum, Human Resource consultants recommend sessions with seasoned, individual staff and teams of individuals that work together on a regular basis, take place every two weeks and weekly meetings should occur when staff is new to the organization or the work group.

These sessions should not be billed as “performance review” sessions, but opportunities for general conversation that include discussions about planned versus actual results and action items that have been created in previous sessions. Additional feedback sessions that are longer and detailed should occur with seasoned staff on a quarterly basis. New staff should spend time with managers monthly.

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Career & Staff Development