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Calling all managers: combat anxiety by normalising feedback

We suffer a lot of workplace anxiety, it’s what feeds into our pesky imposter syndrome. And it’s completely normal! But wouldn’t it be nice if we could overcome some of this anxiety?

One of the main causes of anxiety in the workplace comes from feedback. And it goes both ways: your people are worried about receiving negative feedback. And you’re worried about giving negative feedback. It’s common, and a huge culprit of feeding our self-doubt.

Even if you have the best team in the world, as a manager, giving negative feedback is part of the job. No matter how much experience you have, giving feedback is no fun, and can actually be a stressful task, especially when it’s with a team member that you know doesn’t take feedback all that well (we’ve all been there).

No such thing as bad feedback

Sounds odd, but it’s true. Feedback is how we grow and learn – think about your management role now. Would you be here if you hadn’t listened to and acted on feedback?

Okay, it’s not nice, but giving difficult feedback supports higher engagement rates (20 times more to be precise). Why, you ask? Well, it:

  • Ensures your people understand expectations and goals
  • Strengthens your people’s ability to enhance their performance
  • Improves your leadership skills
  • Gives your people the chance to ask questions for clarification

The feedback you’re nervous about giving is generally not negative, it’s constructive. It highlights areas of improvement, and it supports a better manager-employee relationship. The best way to combat your anxiety is to pivot your thinking: you’re not criticising, you’re developing. In fact, 63% of Gen Z say they want to hear more constructive feedback to better their career chances. Now that looks like a positive outcome.

It’s definitely not easy though. Especially when an individual in your team doesn’t take too well to feedback, and frankly doesn’t see it as a learning opportunity.

Many feedback issues arise when feedback is too infrequent. Despite the well-documented benefits, 43% of workers felt their performance reviews are less frequent and effective than they used to be. If you’re not having regular conversations (real-time feedback, 1:1s, quarterly reviews, etc), your people are just not used to receiving feedback, and what may seem like a bad reaction to you, may be them struggling to process the information they’re not used to.

Your people’s success is determined by what you as an employer can provide to aid their growth. And your success as a leader can only grow if you can provide for your people. Everyone needs continual feedback. It’s important for personal development, as well as personal wellbeing. But if there’s nothing in place, where do you start?

Encourage a culture of feedback

Okay, easier said than done. But it’s time to normalise giving and receiving feedback. Encouraging and normalising feedback develops an honest and uplifting culture within your team and wider organisation, enabling people to truly enjoy their successes, whilst empowering growth. Investing time into regular feedback increases retention, with organisations achieving turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than those that don’t. Regular feedback = stronger employee relationships.

So, how do you normalise feedback?

Celebrate every win

When imposter syndrome is hitting hard, it is easy to miss out on the wins and only focus on the negatives. We’re all guilty of it. Hard work goes into these wins, so whether small or big, the wins are there, and they deserve to be celebrated – and so does your team.

Let your people know you appreciate their successes. Give them a call or message, or even set up a workplace reward system. Life is full of peaks and troughs, and although days can be difficult, celebrating the wins boosts your people’s self-esteem and allows them to feel a sense of belonging. Acknowledging your people’s successes is a great step in overcoming feedback anxiety because it helps them to understand the proactiveness of feedback, and that it’s not supposed to be doom and gloom.

Set weekly 1:1

“I’m way too busy for a weekly 1:1”

You might be. But it doesn’t always need to be weekly, it doesn’t even need to be a full 30 minutes, and it definitely doesn’t need to be formal. And guess what? Those regular catch ups will actually save you a tonne of time!

1:1s can be used to discuss how the week is going, if there are any issues on each side, and generally just for some time to chat- super important if you’re remote workers and don’t get that regular face time organically. This improves communication with your team members on an individual level, showing investment in your relationship.

Effective communication allows both parties to create rapport and feel more at ease when conversations around feedback arise. Problems are solved proactively, and it gives both of you a chance to discuss the real peaks, and what mistakes you can learn from.

Invest in a performance management system

When times are busy, performance reviews and feedback can easily get pushed back or even completely missed, especially in a dispersed. But with performance management software, setting up and completing reviews has never been easier. Perform enables you to monitor performance continuously throughout the year, provide feedback, goal tracking, and create flexible reviews.

As a manager, it’s tough constantly worrying that you’re providing for your team. But you are, and by normalising feedback, you’re on your way to developing a strong and productive team.

Looking to transform your performance management strategy? Talk to an expert to find out more about how you can help your high-performing teams reach higher.

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Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.


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