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manager giving feedbackFeedback is a term that often carries a negative connotation in the workplace. When preparing for your annual review, for instance, you might feel nervous and apprehensive, as such feedback is frequently linked to criticism, negativity and perhaps even a touch of fear.

However, as a payroll professional who frequently provides feedback on strategies and processes that affect your work, or as a payroll manager who must regularly provide feedback to your team, you know that it is a powerful tool. When handled properly, feedback can significantly boost employee morale and increase productivity. It can also lead to more efficient processes and a higher quality of work.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nuances of feedback, exploring seven actionable steps you can start implementing today. By the end, you’ll know how to transform feedback into an empowering tool that not only fosters individual development but also strengthens your value in the ever-evolving employment landscape.

  1. MAKE IT TIMELY. Timeliness is key. Providing feedback promptly allows for immediate reflection and correction. Delayed feedback can be less effective and sometimes forgotten altogether. For example, when you notice a discrepancy in a colleague’s work, address it promptly to prevent further errors.
  2. USE “I” STATEMENTS. Using “I” statements helps frame feedback from your personal perspective: how you experienced the situation and how you felt. This approach makes feedback feel less like blame and more like collaboration, reducing defensiveness and encouraging open communication. For example, saying “I felt uncomfortable when…”, instead of “You made me uncomfortable when…”.
  3. MAKE IT CONVERSATIONAL. Rather than simply telling someone what they did right or wrong, ask questions and involve them in the discussion. Encourage them to come up with their solutions and insights, which fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility. For instance, when addressing a colleague’s performance, ask open-ended questions like, “What do you think went well, and where do you see room for improvement?”
  4. BE DIRECT (AND CONSTRUCTIVE). Be clear and concise when delivering feedback. For example, instead of saying, “I think maybe losing your temper with Jim might not be a good idea,” be more direct and constructive: “Losing your temper with Jim was unacceptable, and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
  5. BE SOLUTION-ORIENTED. When addressing issues, always transition into a solution-oriented mindset. This is key to fostering personal and professional growth. After pointing out a problem, suggest possible ways to prevent it from happening again. For example, follow up with, “Let’s discuss a plan to prevent this from happening again.”
  6. BE EMPATHETIC. It’s important to understand the context behind someone’s actions. Instead of jumping to conclusions, ask questions like, “What was going on at the time? Why did you respond this way?” This approach shows empathy and provides an opportunity for the individual to explain their perspective.
  7. REMEMBER INDIVIDUAL PREFERENCES. Just as it’s essential to reflect on how you give feedback, it’s equally important to consider how you prefer to receive feedback. Understanding your preferences can help you tailor your feedback-giving approach to match the recipient’s needs. For instance, while you may prefer feedback that’s direct and to the point, you’ll want to adjust your approach when providing feedback to someone who would see that as harsh.

Feedback is not a bad thing. Rather, it is your secret weapon for continuous improvement. When given and received effectively, it serves as a highly effective driver for growth. Embrace it, use it wisely, and watch your professional value soar.

This article is an excerpt from Dialogue Magazine, which is received by members of the National Payroll Institute. If you are not already a member, we encourage you to join.


Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash.

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