No matter how experienced an employee may be, delivering regular and accurate feedback on their work is important. This is especially true for real estate teams, where precise feedback can help the group achieve more than the sum of its parts. Put another way: to optimize performance, the best athletes don’t train by themselves — they spend hours working with their coach and alongside teammates to improve.
For some agents, hearing a colleague or manager utter the word “feedback” immediately puts them on the defensive. Likewise, giving “feedback” often triggers anxiety in managers. There’s a desire to avoid uncomfortable situations, which can sometimes push leaders to only deliver positive feedback, or to share honest feedback when it’s too late.
The reason feedback receives such a bad rap is because it’s often given during infrequent performance evaluations (e.g., annual reviews), and is so delayed that it blindsides the recipient. But done well, feedback can simply be a conversation, a frequent dialogue where observations turn into strategies and suggestions to maximize performance. Here are three simple steps that the most successful organizations use to deliver effective feedback.
Without an environment built on trust and respect, it’s impossible to share constructive feedback. The first step in building that environment is to ensure everyone is clear on your team’s purpose and goals. This includes specific objectives, the overall strategy, and its accompanying timeline.
Aligning your team on specific, measurable goals with clear deadlines will generate accountability that feedback can be tracked against. According to organizational psychologist Roger Schwarz, once your team agrees to the same expectations, feedback will be anticipated and not taken personally.
Disagreements don’t have to lead to dysfunction: Throughout the process, your team should feel empowered to voice their opinions in an open dialogue. Issues can be treated at an early stage if employees feel they are able to speak out.
Frequent check-ins are necessary for long-term success. Whether you meet team members individually, or together in a group setting, check-ins keep everyone focused, on track and play a role in preventing a last minute crisis. Plus, your team will get used to giving and receiving feedback.
Mary Shapiro, author of the Harvard Business Review Guide to Leading Teams, recommends starting out with a structured check-in, which you can relax over time. It’s tougher, she says, to impose structure later on.
When you work with a golf coach, you expect them to help improve your skills and help you feel more comfortable during a round of golf. To do this, the coach will offer constant feedback on your grip, stance, and swing throughout each training session.
The workplace should be no different – think of your professional environment as a coaching session at scale. Sharing tips and tricks often helps your team improve their skills and feel more empowered in their day-to-day work. Only when each individual member feels empowered will a team efficiently accomplish its goals.
For your team to grow both individually and as a group, it’s essential that they understand the areas where there’s room for improvement. The process of giving constant feedback will take time to get used to, but will come more easily if planned and practiced by a leader.
As your team begins to accept strategic and open conversation, feedback will be seen as positive – not something to avoid.