Many clients share woes about employees who don’t do this or should have done that. When I ask how their employees responded to feedback about these issues, I get blank stares.
Of course, feedback can be both positive and negative. In either case, you want to provide it swiftly. If you wait, you dilute the impact.
Think about it: have you ever waited to give feedback about a mistake or inappropriate behavior? When you finally get around to saying something, the employee has long forgotten about the incident and reacts as if you are picking on her.
Many people are conflict averse, and think that providing constructive feedback will create friction with the employee.
On the contrary: if you provide your opinion along with some ideas as to how the person can do it differently, improve upon it, or create a different outcome the next time, the employee will have some practical advice he can work with.
People are sensitive about feedback when it’s purely critical and appears to be a personal affront. Focus on the action, not the person.
In any case, the longer you wait, the harder it becomes, and the less effective your message will be. If you have resisted giving feedback and think that it’s too late to start, it’s not. It may be too late for a specific incident, but it’s never too late to start providing precise feedback in the moment, along with some coaching on how to improve the next time.
By the way, the same thing applies to positive feedback. If you wait too long to say something, the impact is diluted and the recipient may think that your comment is insincere or obligatory. Speak up when you catch people doing something right and cheer them on!
Have a great week!