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Best practices for delivering feedback & better communication globally
Feedback and communication are crucial for any company – especially ones that operate primarily online. In our changing world where teams are becoming more global and the office moves online, it becomes increasingly difficult to mimic the physical work place setting. Fear not, as below are some best practices to improve the feedback and communication process:
- Be open to feedback - though it may not feel natural at first, it is important to be comfortable delivering and receiving feedback. Not only will it help the person grow, but it will help the company as well. When you see something that can be improved, share it so others are aware of it – don't let it linger and spiral out of control. When you see something positive that a person did, share it with them to encourage similar actions in the future. When someone shares feedback with you, be open to receiving it - good or bad. Thank them for being comfortable sharing feedback with you – which in a way is feedback of its own, encouraging more positive feedback. Listen closely to what they have said, and think about what actions you can take to build on their feedback.
- Be as specific, not general - Delivering feedback becomes much more effective when it is specific as it makes the outcomes more understandable and actionable. This applies to both positive and negative feedback. Without being specific, the receiver of the feedback won't know what they were doing right or wrong. This is more common with positive feedback as generally with negative feedback one tends to be very specific. A mere "Great work on project X" may sound good, but it leaves the receiver wondering what aspects defined their great work.
- Time and place for everything - It is not always a good time for feedback. What may be convenient for you, may not be for others. Choosing the right time to deliver feedback is crucial for the best effect – choosing the wrong time could lead receivers to be distracted, therefore not receiving your message in its entirety. If feedback is delivered face-to-face, ask the receiver whether this is a good time for feedback. If it isn't, find a time that works best to share it with them – needless to say, if it is urgent, do let them know so.
- Don't make accusations - It's a terrible feeling being blamed for something you didn't do. When delivering negative specific feedback, it is important to allow the receiver to share their side of the story. What you may have thought may not be what it seems after all. An example may be assuming a person isn't getting their work done on time because they're lazy, but it may be because they're having family issues at home. Making accusations at that point will be counter-effective. The best practice is to share with the receiver about something you observed, and action that you saw them perform, then ask them if they could share more about their experience.
- Set the right expectations - be clear from the very beginning what the expectations to help both parties understand the work to be done so there aren't any misunderstandings.
- Define owners - who are responsible for what aspect of each project – make it so it is clear who is accountable for getting the work done.
- People read through a different lens - understand that not everyone may interpret messages the same. Be clear with your communication and give the benefit of the doubt that maybe your communication could have been better.
- Stay in sync - check in with your colleagues now and then to ensure things are flowing smoothly, but also to have a friendly conversation. If there is a large project it may be beneficial to schedule regular 1-1 meetings to stay on track.
- Be responsive - don't let your messages pile up, respond at your earliest convenience, you never know when someone might be waiting for your actions to move forward with the task.
- Platform of choice - In a perfect world, everyone would use just one platform for communication but in reality, everyone communicates through different channels. Find out what the best method of communication is with the respective parties for efficient communication.