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close this bookHundred Tips for a Better Management (Aga Khan Foundation, 1993, 70 p.)
close this folderGiving feedback
View the document77. Try coaching63
View the document78. Maintain control through management tools64
View the document79. Provide feedback to staff65
View the document80. Make feedback valuable66
View the document81. Don't confuse feedback with evaluation67
View the document82. How to ask for feedback68

77. Try coaching63

I praise loudly, I blame softly Catherine "The Great", Empress of Russia

Look at supervision as coaching, that is, providing encouragement and advice to staff who need to take corrective action.

Here are five guidelines five Rs:

  • Rehearse/visualise. Put yourself in each of your staff's shoes. What does that person think, what resistance might you encounter, what are his or her concerns? Be prepared.


  • Review/restate the problem or opportunity. Give your staff person ample time to present his or her side of the story. Be a listener. Be ready to change your mind if you don't have the full picture. State your own role in the situation.


  • Remove the blinders. Make sure you and your staff member understand that the issue is to improve performance in the future, not dwell on past mistakes. Ask what the alternatives are to current performance and how it can be made better.


  • Respond with a plan. Be proactive. Collaborate with your staff person on developing goals, standards, deadlines and schedules.Ask for commitment. Get your staff member to take the first step now.


  • Recycle/renew/revise. Coaching is a process, not a one-time event. It is never over. Stay in touch.

78. Maintain control through management tools64

You probably have several management tools that you can use to supervise the work of your staff. These tools allow you to focus attention on activities that have been or need to be done. Use them to keep staff focused on work priorities.

  • Budgets: A good budget is a specific, itemised plan. Use it to keep your programme plan on track by reviewing the status of the budget with your staff on a regular basis.


  • Expense records: Good expense records provide documentation of expenditures. Use them to review important activities with your staff.


  • Gannt charts: A good Gannt chart provides a visual description of the major activities planned for a programme and their schedule. Review these periodically with your staff to make sure that your programme remains on schedule.


With the increased availability of computer programs for management, you have a ready source of many other control devices that can now be prepared and updated much more quickly than in the past. See the Computer guide for suggestions.

79. Provide feedback to staff65

Despite its inevitability and importance, feedback or information about workplace performance is enjoyed and performed effectively by few. However, the benefits of knowing how to deliver feedback are immense. Clear and direct feedback reduces uncertainty, solves problems, builds trust, strengthens relationships, and improves work quality.

The following guidelines will help managers acquire feedback skills:

  • Be specific. Give descriptive examples of the behaviour or performance at hand.


  • Be descriptive. Instead of evaluative. Referring to observable behaviour deals with fact rather than opinion.


  • Be aware. Of non-verbal communication. Unintended displays of feedback, like raising eyebrows, constitutes opinion.


  • Use appropriate timing. Feedback is usually most effective right after the work performance occurs or immediately after it is asked for. Ensure privacy and allow time for discussion.


  • Aim for impact. Positive and negative input about job performance should be made at least weekly to increase its impact and lessen potential trauma.

80. Make feedback valuable66

Subordinates need substantive feedback to either continue on track or re-route and improve work performance. Time is limited so think ahead about what you will say and how you will say it.

The guidelines below will help managers transform personal, unorganised thoughts into constructive, tangible feedback.

Acknowledge the need for feedback:

  • Giving and receiving feedback, should be part of the whole organisation's culture, wherein, everyone agrees that it will help establish and maintain good group dynamics. This consensus is important so that there is no surprise when someone receives feedback.


  • Give positive and negative feedback


  • Don't give feedback only when there are problems.


  • Don't take good work for granted.


  • Tell workers when they have done a job well.


People are more likely to pay attention to complaints if they are also in the habit of receiving compliments understand the context.

The most important characteristic of feedback is that it always has context: where the performance occurred, why it occurred, and what led up to the event. Before giving feedback, review the actions and decisions that led up to that point.

Know when to give feedback

  • Is the moment right for feedback? Consider more than your own need to give feedback.


Know how to give feedback

  • Be descriptive, but concise.
  • Don't coin behaviour into labels like, "unprofessional." They are judgmental as are words like, "good," "bad," "worst," etc.
  • Don't exaggerate.
  • Speak only for yourself.
  • Talk first about yourself, not about the other party; for example, "I feel annoyed that you are late for meetings," rather than, "You are frequently late for meetings."
  • Phrase the issue as a statement, not a question; for example, "It bothers me when you are late for meetings," rather than, "When are you going to be on time for meetings?"
  • Restrict your feedback to things you know for certain.
  • Help workers hear and accept positive feedback. Remember, some people are awkward about acknowledging compliments about themselves. Reinforce positive feedback.


Know how to receive positive feedback.

  • Relax. Breathe to relieve tenseness.
  • Listen carefully and don't interrupt.
  • Ask for specific examples of the described behaviour if you are unclear.
  • Acknowledge valid points.
  • Feel free to take time to sort out feedback before you respond.

81. Don't confuse feedback with evaluation67

Evaluation judges performance when making decisions, for example, about pay increases and promotions. Feedback tells workers how well they are doing and what they can do to improve.

Remember, when giving feedback:

  • Use observable terms instead of judgmental words. There is a different reaction from the employee who is reminded of missing three deadlines than from the same employee who is called irresponsible.
  • Don't expect to accomplish the same results with feedback and evaluation. They are mutually exclusive.
  • Don't expect to always accomplish each purpose in the same meeting. Feedback won't work when employees are threatened and defensive.

82. How to ask for feedback68

Staff are usually reluctant to provide any feedback to their bosses, especially if it is negative. But your staff know you better than anyone else you work with. Their reactions to your behaviour, and their suggestions for how you can improve yourself as a manager, are important information. You should make sure you get it ently.

Here are some hints for getting more and better feedback from your staff:

  • Ask more open-ended questions. Use words like who, what, when, where, why and how to ask questions. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. "How can I present this more clearly?"


  • Ask more "suppose" questions. This type of question makes the listener put himself or herself in someone else's position. "Suppose this were your problem. How would you deal with it?"


  • Echoes. Echoing is a repetition of the speaker's words followed by a pause. It encourages the speaker to elaborate on a point. "You're saying the team has some problems?"


  • Reassure. Reassurance is letting the speaker know that you understand his or her position because you've been in a similar situation yourself. "I know what you mean. I didn't understand the policies when they were introduced myself."


  • Reflect. Reflection is neutral observation of the feelings you see in someone else. "You seem very concerned about this issue."


  • Listen. People say more and they say it better when they believe that someone is really listening to them.