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17 January 2023

How to Give Effective Feedback When You’re in a Hurry

Jairek Robbins

Company Culture: How to Give Effective Feedback When You’re in a Hurry


In today’s challenging and fast-paced business landscape, it is becoming increasingly harder for managers and leaders to give effective feedback due to the many competing priorities on their radar.


However, providing effective feedback is one of the keys to improving performance and boosting productivity. So, how can busy managers or business owners give effective feedback when they are always in a hurry? Read on and implement these suggestions.


Standardize Your Opener


Giving feedback requires you to prepare how to broach the subject, and busy managers or business owners don’t have the time to spend working out how to introduce the subject. For many, it becomes easier to postpone giving feedback to a later time when they will have “more time.” More often than not, that later time never comes as each day comes with its own long list of priorities.


To ensure that you give prompt feedback, standardize your opener so that you get on with it and move onto something else. For example, you can say, “Do you have a minute to spare? I have some feedback I would like to share with you…”


This standard way to introduce the subject of feedback will save time and mental energy because you won’t have to think about it each time you need to give feedback to a team member. In this way, you can quickly give the feedback even when you are very busy.


Be Blunt


You are busy, and you would like to give an employee or direct report some constructive feedback about a matter of concern. Don’t dance around the issue because this wastes your time and can leave the person unsure about what exactly you were trying to put across.


So, be blunt and get straight to the issue. For example, say, “I noticed that your report was very thin on statistics to back up many of the claims you were making. Can you spend more time looking up relevant data so that management can quickly assess the recommendations that you make in future reports?”


Being blunt sends a clear message to the team member and leaves no doubt as to what exactly is expected of them. It also saves you time, which is a win-win for all concerned.


Lose The Sandwich


There is a tendency to try and “soften the blow” of constructive feedback by first praising the recipient, squeezing in the constructive feedback, and then praising the person at the end. The constructive feedback is, in effect, sandwiched between layers of praise.


This may sound counterintuitive, but using the sandwich approach to deliver feedback is ineffective because the recipient of the feedback can easily focus on the praise you delivered and forget the information on what you need them to change.


Also, the sandwich method wastes time, and time is something you have a limited supply of. It is therefore a lot better to get straight to the point and avoid “sugarcoating the pill.” Be blunt, as the previous suggestion explains.

Be Specific


Another helpful approach to giving effective feedback when you are in a hurry is by being specific. Being specific clarifies where change or improvement is needed, and it is time-efficient.


For example, don’t say that “I have noticed that the overall quality of your monthly reports has gone down, and I need you to step up your game.” Such a statement may be meaningful to you, but it is totally meaningless to your employee or team member because it lacks in specifics.


It is far better to say exactly what deficiencies you observed and how you suggest those shortcomings should be addressed. You will save time in this way, and the person receiving that feedback will know exactly what is expected of them.


While still on the subject of being specific, many people neglect this important attribute when giving positive feedback. For example, saying “Good job!” can seem like you have delivered positive feedback, but it sounds empty because it is thin on specifics.


It is far better to mention exactly what the team member did right to earn your praise. For example, you can say “The graphs you included in your report made a very strong case for the recommendations you made, and it was easy to follow your argument to the end.”


You spend less time delivering specific constructive feedback because it is derived from an observation you made, and it attains the right effect in the recipient.


Don’t Wait ’til Later

Be prompt in giving feedback and resist the temptation to wait until a later time. Remember, you are busy and chances are you will never get round to delivering that belated feedback due to the many things competing for your attention on a daily basis. The smart thing therefore it is to get that feedback out of the way as soon as possible so that you can focus on other priorities.


Another important attribute of providing feedback immediately is that the event triggering the need for the feedback is still at the center of your mind and in the mind of the intended recipient of that feedback.


For example, as soon as you end a meeting, give the team member feedback about how they performed during their presentation. The facts of the matter will still be fresh in both your minds, and the teaching/learning moment will not be lost.


Most importantly, you will save time because your feedback will not demand plenty of explanations since everything is still fresh for all concerned parties. So, get the feedback out of the way immediately and move on to other things.


Ask The Person To Restate What You’ve Said


Feedback can only be effective if it is clear and the recipient understands exactly what has been communicated to them. Bluntness, being specific and not sandwiching the feedback all come in handy at this point.


To confirm that your message has been put across, ask your direct report or employee to paraphrase or restate what you just told them. When they do so correctly, you will be sure that your point was made and no time will be lost later in delivering the same message or clarifying aspects of it.


If more clarification is required, you will do it there and then, and then close that matter as you wait to see the needed changes. You save time by tying up loose ends immediately, and the recipient of the feedback leaves fully aware of what needs to happen. Win-win!


As you can see, it is possible to deliver effective feedback even when you are in a hurry. Start implementing the suggestions above while giving feedback and keep the communication channels open with your team or employees so that they can keep growing and taking on more responsibility as a result of your coaching and feedback sessions. As they grow, you can then pass on more tasks to them so that you free up some of your time. Isn’t that a great loop to get into?

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