These days everyone wants a good review. Tell us how well we
have done. But if the feedback is less than glowing it may get an
angry and hurt response. This is why cautious managers so often play
safe with their feedback. To the detriment of employee
” At some stage in your career you’ve got to face up to the fact of
how good you are , and let’s face it Walter you’re shit. But I think
you’ve got a real talent as a coach, so would you be my coach?” Jim
McLean to Walter Smith (two famous football managers)
If only most managers felt able to be so direct with their
feedback and career advice but then ( Scottish) football managers have
a tradition of being opinionated, abrasive and critical of those less
able and committed than themselves.
According to a survey 80% of employees feel their line manager
doesn’t give them enough feedback. I think we can safely say that what
most employees are saying is that they don’t get
enough useful feedback. I would speculate on the bases of my
experience in mentoring and coaching that one reason for this is that
managers are apprehensive even scared to give critical feedback.
Managers provide bland and therefore not very helpful but safe
feedback because they are worried that they will be challenged ,
accused of being unfair , unsupportive , overly critical, negative ,
demanding, disparaging with ridiculously high expectations. Employees
have been known to complain to HR that they feel bullied because their
manager is frequently critical of their work.
They are concerned that critical feedback will get an angry and
hurt response. That the individual will react badly to the
criticism. There is a view amongst managers that people only want
positive feedback, to be told what a great job they are doing or what
a good interview they gave( just another candidate had more
experience). Better to have someone feel their feedback was ,”
unhelpful” than have them takeout a formal grievance against you.
If feedback is to be useful for the individuals development it must
be honest, frank, and specific, backed up with examples. If the
feedback is following a job interview say which questions the panel
thought could have been answered better and what the panel would have
considered a good answer. If the criticism is about standard of work
give examples, frequently missed deadlines, careless errors meaning
reports had to be double checked. If it’s about behaviour and attitude
give examples, an abrupt telephone manor off putting to clients, an
unwillingness to help out colleagues when they’re under pressure.
You don’t need to be as abrasive as a Scottish football manager to
give helpful feedback.
Blair Mcpherson former Director author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk