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Take the Fear out of Feedback

Take the Fear out of Feedback

​The ability to give feedback is a superpower. Little nuggets of feedback can change lives. But the word “feedback” has a negative connotation, perhaps because not many people are comfortable giving it.One mistake many managers make when giving feedback is to focus only on poor performance instead of also speaking to successful performance.That’s according to Tamra Chandler, partner at EY, and Laura Grealish, senior manager at EY, both in Washington state, who co-authored the book Feedback and Other Dirty Words: Why We Fear It, How to Fix It (Berrett-Koehler, 2019). They provided a new outlook on one of the more dreaded duties of HR and managers during their session “Redeeming Feedback for Good” during the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021.”We need to redeem feedback and start over, because feedback is good for your company,” the presenters shared. “You have to lean in and listen in your feedback. If you do, you will outperform those companies who don’t.”Chandler and Grealish said teams should allow frank and positive thoughts in their feedback because teams that encourage this will stay together longer. Employees who receive specific praise in the form of feedback performed better at future tasks than their counterparts, they said.For example, two-thirds of employees whose managers focus on their strengths are “fully engaged.” When managers focus on their weaknesses, employee engagement drops to 31 percent.”Research shows that focusing people on their shortcomings doesn’t enable learning. It impairs it,” Chandler said. “Our words have the power to inspire, to unlock potential, to lift us up instead of knocking us down. If that doesn’t get you on board with fixing feedback … nothing will.”Most importantly, when supervisors focus on fixing a performance problem through negative feedback, “It’s a huge turnoff in the employees’ minds,” they said. “When we exert control over someone, their performance will actually go down, outcomes suffer, and learning is limited. As a supervisor, remember it’s about their future and not your agenda.”Trust and Positivity Are KeyWhen giving feedback, managers shouldn’t be judgmental. Feedback should be intended to help individuals or teams thrive and grow. “If not, then don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s feedback,” they said.Once a manager and employee develop trust, more valuable and more effective discussions over feedback can be had, they said.”When there’s a trusting relationship, so many good things happen. There’s 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy, 50 percent more productivity, 60 percent more joy, 70 percent more purpose and 50 percent more retention,” Chandler said.Chandler and Grealish said negativity will kill the process. They recommended that supervisors tie necessary negative feedback to the future: They recommended conveying the message “It’s not that you did it wrong. It’s that you can do it even better.”Don’t Make Feedback ScarySupervisors should aim to lower employees’ fear of receiving feedback. “The last thing an employee wants to hear is, ‘Let’s set up some time tomorrow for you to visit with me in my office,’ ” Grealish said. “That is something that will surely lead to …

5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

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5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

​You can’t see mental health challenges, but they are happening all around you.Speaking during a session at the recent SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, Andrea Sides Herron, SHRM-CP, told the plight of her sister, who has struggled with mental health issues for nearly her entire life. Then COVID-19 made them worse. Herron’s sister initially hid how she was feeling from friends and family, but eventually the warning signs became clearly visible and she asked for help.Mental health issues are afflicting people in your office, too, Herron said. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. had some form of mental disorder; the numbers have skyrocketed since then. Identifying Employees Who Are Experiencing Mental Health Challenges”Many of you are being squished by mental illness,” Herron said. “You have more than you can handle.”One way HR teams and supervisors can identify staff members experiencing mental health challenges, she said, is by paying attention to each person’s base lines. What is the person’s typical behavior? Learning this becomes more difficult with remote workers, she said, but there are signs that should cause concern.”Have you noticed that a person’s appearance has shifted?” she asked. “Are they choosing not to have their camera on during videoconference meetings when they usually did? Is there evidence that they’re drinking too much or [have] picked up smoking again? Maybe they’ve told you about the 12 Amazon deliveries that show up at their house each day. These are signs.”Herron, a seasoned HR executive, author and host of the HR Scoop podcast, advised HR and managers to be careful when reacting or responding to an employee’s changed behavior. “Do not add to the shame that can come with mental health’s stigma,” she said. Addressing Struggling EmployeesHerron described five fictional employees, explored some of their behaviors and suggested ways of dealing with those behaviors. Masa: He’s been an employee at the company for three years. He’s been a solid performer, but his manager has noticed changes in his behavior and there are rumors that he’s getting a divorce.Check in with him. Managers should keep an open-door policy and let employees know they are there for support, Herron said. “Employers should never make that first one-on-one meeting … because an employee did something wrong,” she said. “Try to meet earlier on with employees under friendly terms to help to establish a better relationship.” Carlyn: She’s been working at the company for two years. She’s a high-performer, and she has asked for an off-cycle raise. You sense that she’s under financial strain.It turns out her partner was fired and her household is lacking income. She’s become uncharacteristically angry at her co-workers.”We know there is a strong link between financial stress and mental health,” Herron said.Herron suggested that the employer might:Offer her a promotion with more responsibilities since she is a high-performer, if it makes business sense.Think about whether the company is doing enough to offer resources that support financial wellness.Consider offering tuition reimbursement or student loan payoffs or other benefits in addition to a traditional 401(k).Employees can be high-performers and have mental …

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