Use Feedback as a Teaching and Development Tool
Frequent and specific feedback is critical to learning. It’s even more important than when you’re coaching an intern, new employee, or employee with performance issues. Depending on the length and intensity of the training needs, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly scheduled feedback is necessary for growth and development. Don’t underestimate the power of impromptu, positive feedback as you notice your intern/employee doing work or behaving in a way that meets or exceeds your expectations. Catching someone doing the right thing is far more effective than jumping on errors.
When corrective action is necessary, use this quick process to make sure your feedback is focused on the development of your intern’s/employee’s skills.
- Begin by describing the behavior you’d like to see. How should the report look? How does a professional employee act and dress?
- Follow up with the behavior you have observed. Try filling in the following sentence(s), “I’ve noticed ________ and it’s important to ____________ because it will help you _____________.”
- End by discussing (not prescribing) how to bridge the gap between what you’d like to happen and what you have observed. Make sure to include the intern/employee in the problem solving by asking for input.
It’s also important to open yourself to feedback. Coaching your intern/employee to learn to give feedback is as valuable as teaching them to receive it. Modeling the appropriate behavior is essential.
- Listen without interrupting and without defensiveness. Take the opportunity to receive feedback as a growth opportunity for yourself and your business.
- Ask questions to clarify the feedback. Guide the intern toward the example above. What did the intern expect to see and why? What did the intern observe?
- Discuss what could account for the gap.
- Thank the intern for providing feedback.
As managers and business owners we often develop tunnel vision. Using a clear process to coach an intern or employee is a great way to encourage an open flow of communication. Who knows what heights you’ll reach with a new set of eyes.