Editor's note: This article was originally written about employer/employee relationships in a church and beyond, but the principles work well within the context of small-group ministry. The four types of feedback mentioned below apply to directors and coaches, coaches and group leaders, group leader and group members, etc.
Many leaders don't feel comfortable or confident when it comes to giving performance feedback. But here is some good news: you're probably better at it than you think.
There are four types of feedback, and chances are you're good at one if not more. The odds of improving your ability to give feedback improve dramatically when you understand all four types.
Often we don't think of encouragement as being a form of feedback, but it's probably the easiest to do and the most powerful. A recent survey by Leadership IQ showed that 67 percent of employees say they get too little positive feedback from their bosses. Yet this type of feedback should be very easy for leaders to give.
Think about it: most of what employees do is done correctly. That means most of our feedback should be positive praise. We've all heard that very practical leadership principle that says: "What gets praised gets repeated."
In most cases, employees are really giving their best effort. So when they fall short of a goal or a deadline, typically it's due to lack of skill or knowledge, rather than defiance. In this case, a simple redirection can make a huge difference in their performance.
When you give redirection, you let the employee know what they are doing right and ask them to make specific adjustments that will help them be more effective on that particular task or goal. I've found when you discuss poor performance with someone, most of the time they are aware of it—they just aren't sure how to correct their performance. Providing redirection is one of the leader's biggest opportunities for coaching employees toward improved performance.
Sometimes our employees are doing such a great job we can simply empower them and let them go. But it's important that we still give some form of feedback. This is where stretch feedback is very useful.
Before giving stretch feedback, consider the employee's potential, future contribution to the organization, dreams, and ambitions. Then, at the appropriate time, share a stretch challenge that you would like them to reach toward. Your objective is to find something that's just beyond their current competencies—something that will stretch them in new ways and make them think outside the box, yet still fit within their gift mix.
This form of feedback is powerful because it communicates your confidence in the individual.
Sometimes an employee is not getting the job done, even though they have the competence. You may find their commitment level is lagging. Start by giving them redirection feedback. If they still do not respond, then it's time for the most difficult form of feedback: a reprimand.
When you choose to reprimand, make sure you do it immediately, be specific about the errant behavior, let them know how you feel about that behavior (disappointed, angry, frustrated), and then reaffirm the fact that you value them. Make clear what you expect in their future performance.
Which form of feedback do you often use as a leader? In which form do you need to improve?