As a manager, communication with your team is an area that impacts everything else. The way you speak to your employees in your day to day sets the tone and foundation for everyone else, and this communication style – positive or negative – is baked into the DNA of your business.
It’s hard enough as it is to communicate effectively in any work setting – traditional or remote. And as remote work continues to be the norm, managers ask how to give their teams valuable feedback in a way that displays emotional intelligence. Daily communication is the cement that holds the team together, and when you add the need to give some constructive criticism, you want to be sure you don’t leave any room for misinterpretation.
Irina Papuc, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Galactic Fed, a fully remote digital marketing agency, is extremely familiar with giving constructive criticism. She’s grown the company from a staff of 3 to having team members in over 12 countries around the globe. This unique perspective of communicating remotely with an international team has given her valuable insight into the best ways to provide feedback that will inspire positive growth. Here are her 4 go-to tips:
Have an attitude of gratitude
It’s essential always to remember the positives when you give out constructive feedback. In a remote working environment, this becomes even more important because a written message is often all people have to make an impression at the end of the day. It’s important to start off a feedback email with words of appreciation and gratitude. After all, they are an excellent addition to the team, and we appreciate their work overall. It’s also great to call out some things they have done exceptionally well in recent times, for this information is as essential as the feedback itself; it forms a more comprehensive picture of what they bring to the table.
Talk with, not at
Any communication specialist will tell you that conversations are more likely to have positive outcomes when both parties had the opportunity to be heard. You can imagine that a meeting with a member of your team where they are talked “at” not “with” will result in them feeling like their perspective wasn’t valued. The easiest way to ensure you’re giving your team member a voice is to ask questions. This confirms if they are on the same page and allows them the opportunity to share their opinion, often leading to them revealing helpful information. This can clear up conflicts and, at the same time, keep the conversation a two-way street.
Speak in specifics
Sometimes managers can be wary of being too specific as they don’t want to be seen as “nitpicking” or micromanaging. When it comes to providing feedback in an employee’s annual review, for example, the more specific you are, the better. Not only will it give the person concrete, actionable areas in which to improve or evolve, but it also shows that you are paying attention to your team and are aware of their strengths and needs. When applying this, use real-world examples related to your employee’s role and avoid speaking in generalities. You can also encourage any feedback that comes from your team to you to be as specific as possible, which will allow issues to be resolved more efficiently
Create an action plan together
This is an aspect of giving constructive feedback that can not be missed. The initial (and perhaps follow up) meeting is important, but without a plan of action to implement the items discussed, it will have been in vain. It’s best to have your team member feel like they are kept in the loop or had a say in their action plan. You can have them review it and give them the chance to ask questions, or you can physically come up with it together. The latter can have a more positive outcome because it will keep staff more accountable (they helped create it, after all) and it demonstrates to your employee(s) that meaningful growth within the company is a team effort
Following these tips when giving constructive criticism to employees will ensure you foster positive interactions with those who look up to you, and it will also be a key ingredient to the growth of your brand.