The Importance of Feedback in Project Management
Improvement doesn't come without criticism, and as the project manager, learning how to appropriately deliver useful feedback is crucial.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Feedback is a vital part of any project manager’s skillset. Not just giving it, but also receiving it. Let’s talk about its role, why it’s so valuable and how to get better at providing it.
The Benefits of Feedback
For a start, providing feedback—when done regularly—keeps everyone on track. That’s beneficial for anyone involved in the project.
Clear and honest communication in the team and during a project helps your employees avoid major mistakes. Feedback saves you the time of correcting someone’s work, or the regrets of a worker who feels like he failed.
You also form better relationships with the people in your team. Feedback often involves criticism, which is something most people aren’t comfortable with. But when given in the right way, it can help them evolve.
A friendly approach works well here. You can not only help others see what they might be doing wrong, but allow them to use this as a piece of advice, not judgment. Make them feel like you believe in them and just want to help them reach the project’s goal sooner. That will make them even more motivated to do a good job. Constructive feedback can serve as a tool to motivate employees and boost performance.
It promotes personal and professional growth. Feedback is about listening actively, taking the time to analyze, and then thinking of the best possible solution to perform better. It provides positive criticism and allows to see what everyone can change to improve their focus and results. It brings people together and creates a healthy communication flow.
Creating a friendly work environment where everyone’s open to criticism and even seek feedback themselves (both from you and from their teammates) saves you big time. Often the best ideas can come from someone on the team who simply mentioned a solution to a problem or pointed out an issue that others hadn’t noticed yet.
Last but not least, there are the direct benefits of feedback related to business growth, such as saving money, making more sales, and completing a project on time.
All this makes people on the team more engaged in the work process. You might notice they show more respect and loyalty once giving feedback becomes a regular practice.
The Skill of Providing Feedback
For a project manager, it’s extremely important to give feedback in the right way. While it is a powerful practice that creates a visible positive effect, it can also hurt people, lower their self-esteem or make them feel underappreciated.
To do this right, plan your approach. Avoid anything that can be heard as blaming or judging. You want to motivate people and show them areas for improvement. Always explain your employees how this is a win-win situation. Mention their strengths, too, after which you can point one aspect they can work on more.
Make sure you’re specific. The employee should know exactly what aspect of the project you’re talking about, what they did wrong, and how it can be improved.
Give people time to understand your feedback and make sure to receive their responses. They should be comfortable with sharing how they feel about it. Be open-minded and take into account your team members’ points of view.
Don’t forget to let them be part of the problem-solving process. Even if you already have a specific solution in mind, hear them out, then share your proposal using some of their words or ideas.
It is not uncommon that people aren’t actually sure what happened or what their next step should be. That’s why you should ask questions in the end and see if the other person received your message. Follow up after a few days to see how they are doing and whether there’s still an issue.
Last but not least, encourage team members to provide feedback as well. Leave your ego behind, ask them if they have something to add about your performance and role as a manager, and carefully listen to what they have to say. Let them give examples too so you can see what exactly they mean, then discuss this openly and together to find a way to make it work and use the feedback effectively.
Promoting feedback in a team should be your next move. Make room (and plan time!) for it in the process of planning and working on a project. In fact, it should be present at every step. Give your employees time to get used to this new, open-minded and feedback-friendly environment.
Published at DZone with permission of Marina Pilipenko. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.