Forbes.com recently published an article I wrote on the importance of cultivating an effective, intentional feedback loop. Here is an excerpt:
As leaders, giving feedback must be our area of expertise. Think of it this way: All of your industry expertise is useless if we can’t impart that wisdom to our employees.
And remember, praise is a form of feedback – possibly the most important form. When someone nails a project, we must skillfully communicate their success to them, not only because it feels good, but also so they continue that level of work. Saying, “You’re a genius!” doesn’t do much more than boost someone’s mood for a short time. However, we can ensure exceptional performance is repeated through praise that is specific, accurate and impersonal, which means saying something more like, “That solution you developed was really creative and effective.”
Likewise, when we don’t master criticism, we end up doing all sorts of counterproductive things. This can lead to the dreaded philosophy of: “I’ll just do it myself because they never do it right.” What a terrible waste of your time and a missed opportunity for your employees. Or maybe you’ve thought, “Haven’t I told him not to do that a million times?!” This is usually not a result of a bad listener but of our own ineffective (usually vague) criticism. And finally, many of us shy away from criticism because it feels awkward or even unkind.