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January 27, 2021

We know that it can be tough for your company and your team to keep tabs on so many moving parts during these uncertain times. It can be challenging to feel reassured that you’re moving forward with intention when our days are hectic and we’re coping with a vast amount of change.

To ensure that everyone is progressing in the right direction, we’re here to help by outlining how to give frequent employee feedback, needed to help everyone work up to their fullest potential.

While initiating a habit to deliver feedback (whether it’s constructive, positive or negative) is helpful, it also must be handled with care and empathy. This is especially important when it comes to delivering tough feedback.

Establishing a strong relationship at the base of your conversations ensures that even the toughest feedback can be well received. This still holds true during remote settings, however achieving a sense of human connection is not exactly the same when we’re separated between two screens.

As a thoughtful leader looking to bridge the gap with your team, we recommend taking a moment to consider a few of our best practices. They explore how to give feedback to your employees while working remotely.

How to give better constructive feedback remotely

1. Check-in, read your audience, set a foundation of trust
Part of giving constructive feedback successfully is ensuring that there’s trust and a safe space for the receiver. It’s all about the relationship between the two people in the conversation. To build this trust, take a minute to connect on a human level before getting down to business. You don’t know what people are living or the kind of day they’ve had before they show up on the screen.

Taking this into consideration, here are some helpful prompts to ensure that you are both in the right mindset to give and receive criticism.

Meeting check-in prompts:
  • Use one word to describe how you’re showing up to this meeting today.
  • One thing I’m proud of today is ____ and one thing I’m struggling with is ____
In this exercise, be honest and vulnerable to level the playing field and break any pre-existing feelings of hierarchy. This allows both you and your teammate to keep an open mind, making room for conversation rather than a confrontation.

2. Connect via video to reduce the risk of miscommunication

All feedback, whether positive or negative, is more impactful when it’s face-to-face, and a huge part of sharing effective feedback is understanding how it’s received by your employee on both a cognitive and emotional level. It may be difficult to determine someone’s tone or intent, and emotional responses can get misconstrued via tools such as Slack or email.

Right now we are all in need of a compassionate human to human contact. That’s why the simple act of taking the time to have important conversations via video helps to gauge people’s reactions, body language and responses.

Best practices for using video during feedback sessions:
  • Check out your own video every now and then to adjust your body language (i.e., sit up straight if you appear to be slouching as that could give off the impression that you are not paying attention or are bored).
  • Reduce distractions during meetings (mute phone and computer notifications and avoid home distractions as much as possible, etc.) It’s easy to lose focus when you’re not speaking in person.
  • Maintain eye contact with your camera rather than darting your eyes around your screen. Use this time wisely to build connections rather than to multitask.

3. State your intention, give proper context, and don’t rush

For many of us, we’re often locked into back-to-back Zoom meetings and a ‘go, go, go’ mentality. A focus on reaching our quarterly targets can indirectly hinder us from taking the time to frame feedback properly, and with care.

It’s important that, while you may have a long to-do list as a manager, you don’t consider giving feedback as just another checkbox. It’s important to ensure you have an adequate amount of time booked to explain your feedback to your employee as it may spur a larger, important discussion.

Three key elements to include in your feedback, whether virtual or not:
  1. The specific context of the feedback
  2. Your positive intention in giving the feedback
  3. The impact of their behaviour
Here are some examples:

How to give negative feedback when a disengaged employee is not collaborating on team projects?

During our last team meeting where we discussed X project, I noticed you didn’t participate in the brainstorm. I want to check in on this because your engagement is important to me, and it affects the team morale. How have you been feeling about X project and the expectations the team has of you to help bring it to life?

How to give feedback if an employee is not reaching performance goals?

My intention in sharing this constructive feedback with you is to help you achieve X goal we set for you this month so that you can positively contribute to the big picture. I noticed some processes that might be slowing you down; let’s see how we can optimize them together or where I can help you in areas that you find more difficult.

Keep reading here for more employee feedback examples!

Tip: Ask them how they feel about the feedback and to share their insights on your impressions. Feedback from one person to another is just that, an impression, so let employees share their perspective on the matter too.

4. Set a concrete action plan so they leave with a sense of direction

As difficult as negative feedback can be to hear, employees rely on it; it’s their compass to success! Knowing where they need to improve and how will catapult the team forward. After sharing your feedback, the next step is coming up with a concrete plan consisting of action items. This offers employees a clear path to success.

Try using our 1-on-1 feature in Officevibe to store your action items so you can track progress on the important points you set during these feedback sessions! You can even set talking points ahead of time so your employee has an idea of what’s coming up in the discussion.

5. Check-out, take a pulse of how your employee is feeling leaving the meeting

Remember that receiving feedback is not always easy, and it’s now easier than ever to mask feelings once we press the “end meeting” button and the connection literally breaks. Managers lose these moments in time that otherwise offer a glimpse into how employees feel, which is why it’s important to check out properly, just like you checked-in.

There are no longer casual hallway “how are you” moments or quick pulse checks by the coffee maker. Without these, it can be tough to offer support when your team needs it and to make sure that a concept has landed well with them.

Consider a few prompts that will help round off meetings with intention, the same way they started.

Here are some check-out questions
  • Thanks for taking the time to chat about this! How are you feeling leaving the meeting on a scale from 1-10?
  • Do you feel you have everything you need to get started on the next steps? If not, what’s missing?

Using these best practices will pave the way for two-way communication and a higher level of support that will be felt throughout your team. They’ll also contribute to everyone feeling that despite working remotely, they’ll still be connected and find ways to root for each other.

Image Source: Freepik