The Interact Report Volume 3 gives us tips on providing feedback to employees, which begins with the mindset of being direct but kind. Most of us who have been in the work force for a while have encountered situations that are stress inducing. The World Health Organization recently identified burnout as a medical condition that is treatable. There are solutions within the culture of a company that can foster encouragement to the team. How many times have we been stifled in our communication as employees out of fear of retaliation? The answer is, most of the time. It is difficult as an employee to communicate our frustrations and needs to our employers. We work many times alongside our anxieties, and if we admit them, those around us perceive us as weak.
A solution for leaders to prevent burnout of employees is to role model and encourage open communication. This takes vulnerability for the leader to put aside any biases towards the employee, and communicate feedback in a kind and helpful way. Every manager, supervisor, leader has preferred employees and may even gravitate towards those who are most like them. When I was in college working on my bachelor’s in social work, we were taught that we all have prejudice. The key to not acting on it and discriminating towards others; is to admit the prejudice, be accountable to someone about it, and show caution not to act on it. I have often feared employers who made derogatory comments towards my chosen religion within the work milieu. This has caused undue stress to me in work environments, that I would have otherwise thrived in. There needs to be an unconditional approach and fairness to all employees. My perception of how I was being treated was definitely influenced by the leader’s intolerant comments about my faith, and this caused burnout for me.
Definitely a key to preventing burnout of employees, is for the company to truly provide an atmosphere of acceptance where employees feel cared for, thus fostering wellness. I cannot receive feedback as an employee from a manager who I perceive as intolerant to my personal beliefs.
The Interact Report gives 5 keys to providing feedback:
1. Be Direct, Be Kind Being direct does not require being unkind. Making someone feel wrong, or feeling superior in some way, is off track. However, offering feedback is an opportunity for growth and can be an incentive for an employee to be more of who they are. At the same time, a direct conversation falls apart when beating around the bush. It should include specific examples of behavior to illustrate the issues.
2. Listen Listening provides a space in which people can feel respected. Ideally a direct feedback conversation is meant to spark learning on both sides—managers and employees must understand the situation together in order to make positive change.
3. Don’t Make it Personal Imagined slights and malice are toxic. It is easy to take things personally in a direct feedback conversation. Acknowledging the emotions being felt will offer the recipient a relief valve for any stress they might experience.
4. Show Up, Be Present Show up, be fully present—and don’t rush off after having a tough conversation with an employee. Be brave enough to allow moments of silence to come into the conversation. Follow up afterward so that afterthoughts don’t create imagined distance and hurt feelings.
5. Inspire Greatness Communicate the brilliance of the recipient and the aspiration for who they can become. Respectful, direct feedback restores the individual and the team to sanity. It costs absolutely nothing except an emotional investment of honesty, taking the risk of a bad reaction…and being uncomfortable. The stakes are too high.
As a manager today, let’s identify our prejudice, and make ourselves accountable to our own leadership. After all the goal of feedback is to promote change we desire in our employees. Diversity in the workplace is a good thing. Learning to respect others who are different is an important skill for all managers to develop. The truth is, employees respond to biases of managers. We hold our fears and anxieties to ourselves, resulting in increased stress and even burnout. When employees feel cared for, any feedback; positive or negative, will help us thrive. Today let’s put aside our differences, and focus on fostering greatness in employees. We thrive with feedback, open communication and unconditional positive regard.