Back in my college days I spent a summer working as a security guard in the heart of Bostons tourist district. Each Security Guard had a two way radio and to make our communication secure and more efficient we used “Police 10 Codes”.
One of the most important codes is “10-4”, 10-4 means Message received.
Feedback is critical to clear communication, without feedback how do we know our intended message was correctly received? In other words how do we receive a 10-4 in our communication with others?
The Feedback Cycle
Feedback is not about criticizing or pointing out flaws but to give encouragement, recognize achievement and when required motivate change.
It is so important that we are comfortable giving feedback in our personal lives, our sporting lives and in the work place – it is a key characteristic of leadership.
Toastmasters recommended some keys tips for sharing feedback in work place although they apply to so many other situations where we need to provide feedback.
- Share information, not advice: By sharing information rather than advice we leave the person free to find the solutions and set their goals.
- Keep it brief: Do not over load the listener with feedback focus
- Timeliness: Give feedback regularly rather than just once a year.
- Accentuate the Positives: Remember the compliment sandwich start and finish any feedback with positive points. Remember to praise in public and give feedback in private.
Personal Development Plan
In Toastmasters, feedback is called evaluation and it at the very core of the Toastmasters Education Program. By receiving feedback through evaluations we can improve as toastmasters.
In today’s workplace a common approach to feedback between managers and feedback is to use a Personal Development Plan(PDP).
This Plan can be used to identify key areas of learning and development that will enable the employee to develop skills and if required behavioral changes.
In simple terms a typical format is a number of key goals to be completed and one area for improvement.
The employee should suggest solutions and develop the plan jointly with their manager.
Some companies use a 360 Degree Feedback whereby employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from their colleagues including the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports
Typical Personal Development Plan Discussion
Often both Managers and Employees are curious to learn more about the structure of a meeting for the annual review of a PDP. Thus I have created a Scripted Dialogue for a typical discussion between a Manger and Employee
- The context is that the manager and employee are conducting the annual review. They developed a PDP last year and have reviewed the plan monthly. In this meeting they will discuss the progress of last years plan and will begin to develop the plan for the upcoming year.
- The employee has recently progressed from an engineering position to a lead engineer and is performing well in their role.
- This scenario emphasizes positive feedback from the manager and the employee’s opportunity to give their feedback.
Introduction and verify employee is satisfied with the process
Manager: Hello , Thank you for meeting me today, in this meeting we will review the PDP we created 1 year ago.
We will firstly talk about your thoughts on how the year has gone and I can provide some feedback.
We will then move on to next year’s goals.
Since we have been meeting monthly there should be no surprises.
Before we begin, do you have any questions about this process?
Employee: No, it all seems clear.
Ask employee for self-feedback
Manager: Ok, why don’t we start with how you felt went well this year?
Employee: On the main project this year the deadlines were tight and the customer asked for some additional changes towards the end of the project, but we still managed to deliver on time even with the additional changes.
Also we had a lot of new people join the team this year, and I felt I did a good job getting them up to speed.
Manager: Thanks, that is great feedback and was there anything you would have done differently this year?
Employee: Yes, now that the project is finished, I have reviewed the project with the team and a key outcome is that we could have engaged with the customer earlier in the project. Our new process involves discussing the requirements with the customer much earlier in the project.
Provide your own observations
Manager: OK, I will now add my feedback. Overall we see to have the same view of how the year went.
I felt that you did a great job delivering on time with the additional changes and getting the new members up to speed, particularly as this was your first project as a lead engineer.
Also people always mention how well you interact with the other teams in the department and how helpful you are.
It’s great that you have proactively changed the process to help avoid changes in the late stages of projects in the future
I am pleased to announce that your ratings for this year has been exceed expectations.
Employee: That’s great news, thanks very much. I am very happy with that.
Review and set new objectives
Manager: As we look to next year, what do you see as important goals?
Employee: To continue to deliver our projects on time to our customers and I want to track the effect of earlier engagement with the customers on our upcoming projects. As my role involves more planning and estimation, I am interested in completing a project management course. Also as discussed I am learning to delegate more of my duties among the team.
Manager: Yes, tracking the new process changes seems good and a project management course seems a logical area for training for your career progression. Delegating the work in team will be beneficial for the team.
I think we have some specific goals for next year’s plan.
I can take an action to request funding for a project management course
At this point do you have any additional items you wish to discuss?
Employee: No, I am satisfied with everything we discussed today.
End on a future focused and positive note
Manager: OK, I would like to thank you again for all you have done this this year and felt you played a big role in the success of our key projects this year.
Employee: Thanks for your time today and your support throughout the year
So in conclusion this blog on feedback in the work place looked at the importance of feedback in communication. We covered some feedback tips from toastmasters and the role of a personal development plan as a feedback mechanism in the work place.
Finally remember feedback is not about criticizing or pointing out flaws but to give encouragement, recognize achievement and motivate change.
If you wish to learn more about delivering feedback in the workplace there are a number of books that cover this topic.
This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my current employer.
Additionally a HR professional should be consulted for advice on the topic of feedback in the workplace