The Importance of Feedback in Project Management
The ability to give constructive feedback is a vital part of any leader’s skillset. Whether you’re a project manager, a teacher or a coach, you can’t become truly successful in your career without it. So, to assist you in mastering the art of constructive feedback, this article discusses everything that makes feedback good, as well as its value and importance.
Explore the ten keys to providing effective feedback below and feel free to download our detailed checklist to get prepared for difficult conversations with colleagues and never forget a thing during the performance assessment process — look for it at the end of the post!
What is Feedback?
Constructive feedback is the act of giving valuable observation-based comments that help a person to improve behaviors and attain superior results. Constructive feedback is encouraging in nature and aims to provide support rather than criticize. It is based on care and attention to the one who receives it. Thus, it serves to create a healthy workplace environment, boost productivity and stimulate engagement.
Why is Feedback Important?
What exactly is so great about feedback? A myriad of things!
It plays a vital role in both personal and professional growth, and much as 96% of employees worldwide would love to receive it regularly mainly because of that.
1. Feedback promotes a sense of self-efficacy
Not many people find it easy to understand whether they do everything right on their own. As a consequence, their confidence and joy for work may drop while their minds are getting clouded with doubt and the stress level is climbing up. Thus, an expert look from the outside and merely a few words of constructive feedback can help your colleagues feel like they’re on the right track and don’t make any fatal mistakes.
2. Feedback prevents multiple project risks
The best way to ensure your employees adhere to your project plan is to tell them what they do correctly, what could be improved in their behaviors and how. By doing just that, feedback guarantees your team performance is in line with formulated goals and reduces the risk of project overruns.
3. Feedback helps to establish a favorable workplace culture
When team members become used to receiving and providing constructive feedback to each other, their relationships and collaboration may improve. In well-developed feedback-rich cultures, colleagues emphasize personal accountability, work out their emotions and resolve interpersonal conflicts in an effective manner. As a consequence of such attitudes and cooperation, collective productivity may drastically increase.
4. Feedback boosts employee motivation and engagement
Besides making employees feel valued and recognized, a manager who gives regular feedback shows care for what’s going on in their team. Feedback is a sign of a manager’s interest in their staff’s activities and work results, without which some team members may think they’re neglected and become disengaged. So, by frequently motivating your colleagues with constructive feedback, you might notice them turning more committed and loyal shortly after.
5. Feedback fosters positive change. Fast
Do you want your team and business to get better? Hiring the most talented people and implementing the most promising management practices don’t always ensure it will. Even the best of employees need to develop their competencies, explore unfamiliar methods and adapt to new tools once in a while. Your constructive feedback can provide them with the necessary guidance in the learning process. It can stimulate and speed up the positive changes you oh so wish to observe.
10 Keys to Providing Effective Feedback
As you can see, constructive feedback is a powerful thing that produces many visible favorable effects. However, if given in an inadequate fashion, it can also hurt people, lower their self-esteem and make them feel underappreciated. Thus, as a team leader, manager or mentor, you have to know how to give feedback the right way, and here are some of the basic rules to follow:
1. Set clear, measurable and realistic goals for your team members
Goals (especially SMART ones) help employees to perform at their best and show which work results to strive for. Besides, they serve as good quantitative criteria in performance evaluation. So, before trying to gift anybody with a piece of feedback, set specific and time-bound objectives for them. After the predetermined period expires, and the time for evaluation comes, these goals will guide the assessment process and allow you to maintain an objective outlook.
2. Make use of evidence, such as time tracking data
Another thing that will help you maintain objectivity is hard evidence, which you may find in employees’ timesheets and productivity logs.
The latter source of evidence displays what a person was doing at work and how many tasks they accomplished successfully, while the former demonstrates how efficiently that person utilized their time. And you can collect both types of this essential information with actiTIME — a smart time tracker with a powerful reporting functionality that enables you to keep a record of all the tasks your team ever performed, track work progress, see how they distributed time resources across different responsibilities and how well they complied with project estimates and deadlines.
Of course, you need to mind that the use of time is not the only indicator of performance success. But time tracking provides a great chance to identify if a worker often wastes their time, delays tasks and keeps being unproductive in the long term. Then, you can discuss the reasons why that happens at a personal meeting with them.
3. Focus on performance and behaviors rather than personal qualities
Concentrating on performance results and behaviors is a guarantee that you won’t just vent out negative emotions, hurt an employee with a subjective opinion or blame them for something unreasonably.
For instance, instead of saying something like “You’re irresponsible and don’t seem to care about project deadlines at all,” you may say: “I noticed that you’ve recently delayed a few tasks. I’m concerned that such delays might compromise our team’s ability to meet project deadlines. Can we discuss why you’re struggling to adhere to the estimates?”
Use this strategy to keep a professional and friendly tone when talking to your colleagues. It will help you establish a constructive dialog with them, learn their perspective on the problem and stay away from irrational accusations.
4. Be careful with your word choice and non-verbal language
A discussion of any sensitive topic requires a careful approach. Thus, unless you know your feedback recipient well and are on exceptionally good terms with them, pay utmost attention to the words you use to deliver your message. The goal here is to pick emotionally neutral terms and be as delicate as possible.
Moreover, take note of the non-verbal signs you convey. Your posture, facial expressions, gestures and voice tone may easily contradict everything you say and, instead of showing to your interlocutor that you are a friendly and open person, make them convinced you don’t mean any good to them even if you do.
5. Make the Feedback Sandwich
The Feedback Sandwich is a technique that softens the harsh effect of negative feedback on its recipient. Plus, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of providing negative feedback to a team member, it may very well help you too.
To make the Feedback Sandwich, start your discussion with praise for an employee’s strength, then proceed to criticism and end with a positive comment again. By “sandwiching” the unpleasant part between the two complimenting remarks, you’ll reduce feedback-related stress for both yourself and a person you’re talking to, develop more trust and decrease the risk of harming a worker’s self-esteem, motivation and attitude to work.
6. Schedule a meeting
Regardless of whether you’re going to give positive or negative feedback, make sure to schedule time for a one-on-one meeting in advance. Having an appointment, your team member will be better prepared to listen to what you have to say, absorb your message and discuss it.
7. Let your team members ask questions and share what they think
Remember that communication is always a two-way road. To be properly understood and ensure your feedback has the desired effect, let your team members share their own observations, concerns and ideas during the meeting. Involve employees in an active discussion of their performance results and try to find ways to change behaviors for the better collaboratively — such an approach increases the chance that a feedback recipient will actually do something in order to improve.
8. Give specific recommendations
Don’t leave feedback recipients overwhelmed and guessing which steps they have to undertake next in order to become better. Set some new performance goals for your team members and provide them with a clear action plan during the conversation.
9. Take notes and send a follow-up email
A feedback meeting can be emotionally intense and scary, so employees may forget some points you made when talking to them. To make sure the time isn’t wasted in vain and the positive outcomes of feedback are maximized, take notes during the meeting, write a brief summary of your main messages and then send it over to a feedback recipient over email. This will help them process the information much better, reflect on it deeper and actually learn from the experience.
10. Offer ongoing support and mentorship
It won’t do any good to leave a worker absolutely alone and unattended once the feedback meeting is over. Let them know that you’re available whenever they need to ask more questions, clarify some points and share newly emerged ideas. Find time to follow up on your team members’ progress and give words of encouragement if necessary.
The above ten practices are the keys to providing constructive feedback that actually works! So, be sure to implement them and take your time to get prepared for each scheduled feedback meeting in advance:
- Analyze employee results in depth,
- Plan what you’re going to say and how,
- Put on the right mental state to conduct a trustful and open dialog with your colleagues.
In addition, don’t hesitate to use our step-by-step Effective Feedback Checklist to develop highly successful feedback messages, deliver them in the best way possible and motivate your colleagues to change for better with ease.
Remember that constructive feedback plays a vital role in team and business development. And to enrich yours with objective evidence, start using actiTIME. It will help you collect team progress data without a hitch, identify major time use problems and inform performance analysis for higher-quality findings.