An IT Manager’s Secrets To Conducting An Effective Feedback Session

by drjim on February 7, 2013

A feedback session is one of the most important responsibilities  that a IT manager has…

A feedback session is one of the most important responsibilities that a IT manager has…
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Good communication skills are what make an IT manager great. This is one of the IT manager skills that we all need to have. One way that we can show off how good our communication skills are is to conduct effective feedback sessions with our team members. How to make the best use of the time that is spent in a feedback session is a skill that every IT manager needs to have.

How To Talk About The Issues

The topics that you’ll be bringing up during a feedback session with someone who works on your team can be sensitive issues. They may relate to how well they’ve been completing the work tasks that have been assigned to them or you may be planning on talking with them about how they’ve been interacting with other members of your IT team. It would be nice if you had covered how to have this kind of talk in some sort of IT manager training! Since most of us have never had this kind of training, let’s talk about what you are going to need to do.

In order to get the most out of your next feedback session, you are going to have to complete some homework before the meeting. Specifically, what you are going to have to do is to sit down and take the time to describe the behavior that you are going to want to talk with the employee about. Accuracy is going to be very important here. You are going to want to be able to provide answers to questions such as who, what, and when.

Just talking about the employee’s behavior is not enough. You are going to want to make sure that they fully understand why you are having this discussion with them. They may not be aware of any consequences of their actions. That’s why you are going to want to be prepared to talk with them about the impact of their behavior. Who is being impacted and what are they not being able to accomplish because of this employee’s behavior?

Finally, just talking about the way that things are is not going to be enough. You are going to have to go one step farther during this feedback session. You need to clearly communicate to your employee what results you want them to produce. If done correctly, the employee will be the one who comes up with the suggestion as to what can be done differently by them in order to produce the results that you are seeking.

How To Be An Effective Feedback Communicator

The effective outcome of the feedback session is what matters the most. If you conduct a feedback session and no changes result from it, then you will have wasted both your time and your employee’s time. You need to find a way to be more effective.

One important consideration when you are planning the feedback session is to determine just exactly who will be in attendance at the meeting. As the employee’s IT manager, it’s important that you be there. However, you need to take a close look at the team dynamics and determine if including someone else from the team or from another team would help to get your point across better.

Your goal during the feedback session is going to be to find a way to breech your employee’s walls and actually cause them to want to change. This means that you are going to have to carefully select which communication style you use during the meeting. You have many different options here: calm, agitated, teacher, parent, friend, etc.

Nobody ever really wants to hear that they are not perfect and so you need to anticipate that your team member will resist the message that you’ll be sharing with them. Because you know that this will happen, you need to spend some time thinking about how you are going to overcome their objections before the feedback session starts.

Finally, it can be very hard to ask someone to stop doing something. Instead, it is often more constructive to work with them in order to get them to channel their behavior in a more constructive way. This repurposing of their behavior may be better received than trying to get them to halt what they have been doing.

What All Of This Means For You

Getting the most out of each person on your team as a part of your IT team building process is a critical part of every IT manager’s job. This can often mean that in order to change an employee’s current behavior, you are going to have to sit down with them and conduct a feedback session.

In order to make this session productive, you are going to have to take the time to plan for it. This means that you’ll have to be able to accurately describe the employee’s behavior, its impact, and what results you are trying product. In order to get your message across you are going to need to determine who will need to attend the feedback session, what communication style you want to use, and how you’ll overcome the employee’s barriers.

The good news about feedback sessions is that this kind of one-on-one communication is a very powerful and effective tool. They aren’t easy to do and they will require that you take the time to properly prepare for them. However, the time and energy that you put into your next feedback session will reward you with positive results.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What time of day do you think is the best to schedule a feedback session for?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Here’s a quick question for you: how’s that IT manager job going? Is this the right job for you at the right time? Are you fully using all of your IT manager skills? Or have you found yourself stuck in a job that isn’t leading you to where you want to get to in your career? This is a good question, but just exactly how do you go about figuring out what the right answer for you is?

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