You are the manager of the team so you know what to say when you give feedback, and you have learned to say it in a positive way to motivate the team, but do you know when the best moment is to provide feedback?
Offer feedback frequently
Daily feedback to new team members
Give feedback as often as you can. If the person is just starting, give feedback on a daily basis until the person is comfortable with his/her job. Daily feedback shows team members that you care about them, shows your interest in quality, and gives them the necessary comfort to grow from there. Look at feedback as a way of empowering your team.
Daily and by-weekly feedback from the beginning of a team member’s start will help you avoid frustration. It is much easier to correct an hour’s worth of work than a week’s. The more time you invest at the beginning by giving feedback and guidance, the less time you will have to spend afterwards; your team members will better understand what to expect from you and the project.
Weekly feedback to experienced team members
If the team member is already experienced, give weekly feedback, even if it is just a few lines commenting on something that went really well or reminding the purpose of the project if there is nothing to be improved on. Be careful not to fall into micromanagement. Weekly feedback doesn’t mean that you will interfere with what that person is doing; it is just a moment of guidance and mutual acknowledgement.
Again, it is easier to make adjustments on a week’s worth of work than a year’s so provide frequent feedback through the year. Feedback is not a moment for surprises; it is about adjustments, confirmation, and motivation.
What is the best day to provide feedback?
Every day is a good day if the feedback is assertive, but we need to take into account that we feel differently during different days in an average work week (Monday to Friday). On Fridays, we tend to be either absent-minded or running the last spring before the weekend. On Mondays, some feel very energized, while others have a hard time starting their engines. In order to know what the best day is to give feedback, you need to know your team very well; know your audience, and talk to them on the day that they need it the most and that they are paying attention to you and your guidance.
If you give feedback, always do it on the same day of the week so you can get team members into a rhythm: they will receive your feedback and have 4.5 days to make those adjustments. For some people, this regularity will work very well, while others will think it is boring and that you are a very predictable manager. Get to know your team; know yourself and then decide if you will always give feedback on the same day. Also, depending on the different moments of the project, you can choose to give feedback on one day of the week or another. My recommendation is that you decide depending on what you want to communicate:
- This is the perfect day to close projects and celebrate milestones. Give feedback on Fridays if your points are mostly positive and the team needs few adjustments.
- Use Fridays to give feedback to people who you know need time to digest your advice and to those who are very quick-tempered. The weekend will give them a chance to calm down or assimilate your directions.
- If your team is still getting used to a new methodology or to a new project, provide feedback on Monday morning, and if you can, send part of the feedback to the entire team. This will give them a sense of being united, create collaborations, and give them energy to advance together.
- Mondays are a great day to bring up important adjustments in a positive way because people have the entire week to see how they feel with the adjustments, ask you questions while they are making the changes, and feel comfortable with them.
- Wednesdays: If your feedback is just a weekly catch-up, and your main goal is to motivate your team members without any major adjustments, send feedback on Wednesdays and try to make it fun and encouraging so that your team can beat the “hump day.”
- Leave Tuesdays and Thursdays for your team to absorb your feedback and to follow up without giving feedback.
At what time of the day?
Once again, adjust the time of the day to your objectives:
- Motivational feedback: early in the morning to create a good work mood.
- Important adjustments: if you are going to give somebody serious feedback that will require important modifications in his/her work, do it after the person has had a chance to arrive to work and has replied to any urgent messages or completed urgent tasks. If you send feedback that requires a lot of attention the first thing in the morning, the person will feel overwhelmed because he/she will have urgent and important tasks pending, along with your feedback on top of that. Let the person breathe so that he/she can listen to your feedback and understand the variations you are asking him/her to do.
- Small adjustments: if the person is doing well and you need to send a short feedback with few alterations to his/her work, don’t worry too much about when you send it; just remember to always keep your message constructive and assertive so that the person receives your instructions as a way to improve his/her work and the project, not as something he/she is doing wrong.
- Celebration: it is always a good time to celebrate so send this kind of feedback in the afternoon. The good vibes will spread in the office; people will relax and go home in a great mood.
Repetition is your friend
When the project started, you probably gave clear guidelines. Use feedback sessions to repeat the parts of those guidelines that were not initially understood or processed by your team members.
It is easier for us to remember something when the event is closer; it makes more sense and it helps us see how we are going to proceed in the immediate future. Use feedback sessions to make small adjustments, and even if they are things that you have already mentioned, just repeat them patiently.
Feedback during a project doesn’t mean new guidelines each week
A common misunderstanding is to think that feedback is a moment for the project manager to give new information and to ask team members to work in a different way that they didn’t think about.
Try to always think ahead and decide on procedures before you start a project. If radical changes in the procedures need to be made during the project, meet with the team and agree together on those changes. Do not interpret feedback as a moment to give new instructions and insert the procedures you forgot about. Always reach an agreement with the people that are involved about how to include those changes in the process and their everyday work.
No more than 2 big issues at a time
Limit the focus of your feedback. Always include a maximum of two issues to solve. When preparing the feedback, make a list of all the topics you would like to bring up and prioritize them. During each session, bring up a maximum of two topics so the person doesn’t feel attacked or demoralized. If you take 2 at a time, in one month of weekly meetings you will have solved 8 issues. This methodology will give the person a chance to feel in control of their improvements and get a sensation of achievement before receiving new feedback.
Don’t give feedback when things get too emotional
Instead, wait until everyone has calmed down and then start the feedback process. Find out why things got that way and try to make improvements in your team so it doesn’t happen again. Team activities are a great way to increase the trust among your team members and create new synergies.
Talk on a 1:1 basis with those team members that don’t feel well at the moment or that are finding issues with the project or colleagues. Do not bring up the issues or interrogate them in public during meetings; instead, take them to the side and listen to what they have to say to you. Try not to judge them and ask open questions so they can express themselves. Give feedback only when your colleagues are calm and ready to listen to you.
- Prepare your comments well so that the feedback becomes a positive experience.
- Be specific; tell your team exactly where they need to improve.
- Talk about positive things that happened; it will help put team members at ease.
- Provide specific and detailed suggestions.
- Always follow up so your team sees that you care about their challenges and improvements.
- Feedback is about improving performance so measure the progress of your team and make adjustments as you go.
Giving feedback is an easy task. But if not done correctly, your intentions may backfire. Your chance of putting across what you want to express is higher if you pay attention to the time you provide them. Comment selectively, at the right time.
After reading this article, do you think there’s a lot of thought behind certain actions and activiites? Try to time your feedback and let us know if it works positively for you!
PS: Have some burning questions to ask? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I answer every email.