Tips for Giving Feedback – The Virtual Edition
With many employees working remotely and connecting with their teams virtually, we are adopting new ways to do work that might have previously been done face to face. Just because we don’t have the ability to see each other in person doesn’t mean we should delay or avoid having meaningful feedback conversations. With a little planning and effort, your team can have great virtual feedback conversations!
Feedback conversations can happen between peers, employees and their supervisors, or part of a formal performance review (e.g., for TMG members). Here’s a reminder of why feedback is important with some tips for setting up a virtual feedback meeting.
Why is feedback important?
- Feedback helps us grow. Without feedback, we don’t learn. Without learning, we don’t grow.
- Feedback shows we care. Recognition, encouragement, observation, and redirection show that we want others to become their best selves.
- Feedback helps us avoid risk. Silence can be costly and dangerous, feedback helps us improve as individuals, teams, and organizations.
Use these questions and tips to help you prepare your feedback:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- How will this conversation build on what makes this person great?
- How will this conversation make the other person stronger, happier, and/or more aware?
- Are you being specific and saying what you really need to say?
- Is there enough time and mental space for this conversation? (e.g., schedule your meeting in advance and allow 15-45 minutes)
- Do you have useful notes and examples to support what you’re saying? Are you thinking about THEM in THEIR situation, not YOU in their situation?
- How will you invite them to share their thoughts and feelings during the conversation?
- What questions will you ask to understand their perspective around the situation?
Ensure that feedback is balanced. Keep the following in mind to ensure that feedback is balanced:
- Observations – bring attention to what you’ve seen, heard, and noticed
- Redirection – suggest a new mindset and/or behavior
- Encouragement – support someone and reinforce their self-confidence
- Recognition – acknowledge an outcome, behavior, and/or effort
Setting up and running your virtual meeting:
Use Video – Video conferencing is often better than a phone call as it provides visual cues that help you build a connection with the other person. Using video to see someone’s face and reaction helps us stay engaged and have good dialogue. Video conferencing is also useful for screen sharing, allowing you to display data if needed. However, if someone has issues with their internet connection or the video application fails, you may need to call instead.
Be present – Turn off notifications and show that you are invested in the discussion. Try to remove as many distractions as possible.
Focus on creating a safe space – Workplace psychological safety is demonstrated when workers feel safe to to ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes and problems, or propose a new idea without fearing negative consequences to themselves, their job or their careers. Psychological safety results in better teams, where employees can change, learn from mistakes, boost engagement and increase innovation!
Speak compassionately – Allow for small talk and ask people how they are feeling. Don’t make any assumptions. Emotions are high right now and it’s important to check in and ask people how they’re feeling. Everyone’s current situation is unique, with some people requiring more support than others. If you approach every conversation from a place of empathy, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to see the big picture.
Be mindful of body language – Remember to stay open and fully present. Nonverbal cues count! Are your arms crossed? Is your hand covering your mouth or neck? As Amy Cuddy explained in her TED Talk on body language, your posture can change everything. When conducting a performance review using video, be aware of the subtle visual cues that you give and receive to avoid any misunderstanding.
Listen carefully – Being an active listener helps to build trust and respect among your colleagues. When asking a question, give the person a chance to explain without interjection. This is more important virtually as there can sometimes be a delay with video software and only one person can talk at a time.
And above all, remember: feedback is a gift. Be mindful of how you give it, just as you would with a present to a family member or friend. What you do with it can change habits and working relationships for the better.
Interested in learning more? View our suggested list of LinkedIn Learning courses and videos related to “Delivering Feedback Online”.
Learning & Development, TMG