Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Providing frequent feedback to your team is an essential part of effective leadership. Regularly communicating the ways in which your team members meet and exceed expectations provides valuable affirmation. These affirmations encourage your team to replicate successes, in addition to bolstering employee morale and overall job satisfaction.
Addressing times they failed to meet expectations is equally integral to team growth. Avoiding the uncomfortable nature of critical feedback conversations just makes problems worse. The team member(s) will likely repeat the unwanted behavior, and leadership (and possibly other employees) will grow increasingly frustrated and resentful. Directly addressing specific behaviors (it's about the behavior, not the person) and clearly outlining how to improve performance fosters a respectful dialogue that ultimately improves teamwork.
There is a third component, however, that many leaders overlook - they fail to make feedback a two-way street. While many leaders recognize the need to work on providing feedback to their team, few realize the importance of receiving feedback. Effective leaders cultivate an environment and culture where team members feel comfortable candidly sharing feedback (both regarding the leadership and about the overall team).
And it's not enough to simply say to the team, "Ok, give me feedback." It takes time and intentionality to create a space where employees feel safe sharing honest feedback, and where the leader is able to receive it. Through activities and structured opportunities to facilitate feedback, it will slowly become a part of the culture and then begin to happen spontaneously and naturally. The benefits of a feedback culture are many - from increases in employee job satisfaction and job retention, to improved overall team performance.
While it is simple to do, it's not easy - but it is absolutely worth it