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TECHNEWS · Friday, May 1, 2020

Give Constructive and Individual Feedback in team

Team working is one of the best practices in any activity. Feedback is a the most powerful and challenging tool for growing a winning team. How to give feedback Regularly, Individually, and Constructive?

Feedback is usually scarce in local teams and even more in virtual ones. The manager is often calling if there is a problem and the contact with the boss is associated with stress and criticism. In order to give this scenario a positive spin and get it on the development spiral you need to institutionalize Feedback i.e. to establish a clear periodical structure and agenda.

Structured communication in local and virtual teams is essentially three-fold:

  1.  Regular team conferences catering for personal and professional, formal and informal updates.
  2.  Dialogue, stimulating and supporting dialogue vs. defending own positions.
  3.  Regular one to one feedback, reviewing performance and personal development.

It is important having team meetings or conferences not only in case of issues or emergency, but also to support the regular communication flow within the team. The same applies for communication to the team members – it should not only be refrained to particular problem or task but to provide feedback on the overall performance as well as the development of the individual.

Tip 1. Institutionalize the individual feedback

Set a recurring 1-hour meeting with each of your direct reports. Consider this meeting as a priority and investment in your team members, and do not cancel it for more important things, as you are sending the wrong signal.

In my practice, I always stick to one-monthly call with each of my direct reports. The  main goal of this call is to review the progress on their  key objectives. In case of any critical feedback for improvement, I would retain it for this 1-to-1 forum. I would not recommend providing critical feedback by email and by no means doing it in a group online session.

This is a “sacred time” for each team member with the manager. The communication flows in 2 ways: the team member provides update and input but this is balanced by questions to the manager, asking for guidance, political or other support.

In optimal way it should be 50% input from the team member and 50% guidance or feedback from the manager.

Key questions I would recommend each manager to ask his subordinate are:

"How can I support you?”

“Is there anything I need to change in order to improve our work?"

Tip 2. Give a feedback as a Manager and ask for Feedback about your performance as a Leader

This is a monthly forum with fluid content shaped to great extent by the manager and employee equally. If you decide to go for such 1-to-1 forums is key to respect those commitments and make them happen. It is extremely demotivating if cancel them on a short notice without providing alternative dates.

Twice a year I would suggest a more formal performance review: reviewing formally the Annual objectives of each team member in 1-to-1 calls whenever possible in person. Here we would formally make benchmark on the achievements and make a snapshot of the key metrics.

In virtual teams where we have less opportunity for face to face meetings it is key to run this process formally and take corrective action if needed.

Apart from Performance – I would suggest to have twice a year Development plan discussion where we fix a plan for each direct report listing the leadership or technical capabilities he/she needs or wishes to develop.
Development plan is then linked to mentoring, training, on the job assignments etc.

Tip 3. Personalize

Use in person meetings or Video call whenever possible. If not, look at the picture of your conversation partner e.g. form his LinkedIn profile. Start the conversation with personal update - ask about personal goals and achievements.

All this monthly and yearly performance and development commitments take no doubt time. But this is the investment you make as a Leader in your team and in return you your Team becomes more proactive, people are willing to go an extra mile and respond with strong commitment despite the distance.

So regular feedback is fundamental in a virtual team. In fact, it is one of the 10 Big Rocks i.e. the 10 Key success factors for transforming a group of remote workers into Virtual Power Team.

Peter Ivanov

Peter Ivanov is Virtual Teams expert, keynote speaker and executive coach. His book “Virtual Power Teams” is Amazon top 3 in international management.

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