Giving one-on-one feedback is best done in private, but what happens when you need to deliver constructive criticism to your whole team? How should you do it? When should you do it? And what should you look out for?
It’s not just your responsibility
First things first, it’s important to recognise that providing feedback isn’t only the manager’s responsibility. You can’t be the only one holding everyone accountable because you can’t possibly be across everything going on. And if you’re the only one praising and critiquing, your team dynamics will suffer. A sure sign of a healthy, high-performing team is one where everyone holds each other accountable.
Your role as a manager, therefore, is less about being the one to hold everyone accountable, and more about setting the expectation that everyone in the team holds each other accountable. Of course, the only way to do that is for you lead the way – you need to go first – so that others can follow suit.
Set expectations early
Teams that work well together are clear about goals and expectations, and the earlier you set these, the easier it will be to hold each other accountable. If there’s a misalignment of goals and expectations, people will quickly get frustrated. When they’re frustrated they’re in an emotional state that is much harder to manage because now there are egos involved. It’s so much easier to get agreement right up front before there’s anything tangible at stake.
If you haven’t set clear goals and expectations with your team, do it now. Get them together to decide how you’re going to work and how you will hold each other accountable.
When this is done, it’s much easier to give constructive criticism to your team because you can focus on what everyone agreed up front, rather than getting angry because your loosely defined expectations weren’t met.
Some teams like to check in via daily stand-ups and some like weekly check-ins. Some even like monthly check-ins. There’s no golden rule but check-ins are great because they’re regular opportunities to give and get feedback, which makes feedback a completely normal thing (as opposed to annual feedback where the stakes are always high).
At Jobvibe, we use both daily and weekly check-ins. We have a quick daily stand-up meeting to chat about what we’re focusing on and how we’re tracking, and then a weekly check-in to review how we did in retrospect. It’s completely normal to call out things that could be better and no one gets upset, we just get on with improving things – week in, week out.
Ask questions before making statements
People aren’t naturally good at giving and receiving feedback, it takes practice. As a manager, this means it’s important to help your people learn to articulate how they feel the team is going. To encourage that, ask questions rather than make statements.
For example, instead of rolling in with how you think the team is tracking, start by asking the team, “what are we doing well?” and “what could we be doing better?”. Or getting straight to the point, “what’s the number one thing we could be doing better right now?”
Once the team has responded it’ll be a lot easier for you to weigh in with your thoughts too.
Get it out in the open
The usual feedback mantra is “praise in public, criticize in private” but this isn’t applicable when your team has a problem. The best teams talk straight so it’s important to be able to get issues out in the open and solve them together. The more you practice this approach, the faster your team will learn how to express themselves and giving feedback to one another will become second nature.