Offering regular updates on personal performance to your agents, as well as how the business is doing helps your team members feel valued. Recognizing an employee’s strengths can help generate motivation and a sense of accomplishment, and providing negative feedback in the right manner can offer guidance and self-awareness.
The Power of Positive Feedback and Recognition
67% of employees whose managers provided frequent feedback and focused on their strengths, were fully engaged in their work according to a Gallup survey. For employees whose managers focused mostly on their weaknesses, only 31% reported feeling engaged in their work. Considering how important it is to productivity and team performance for your agents to be engaged, that’s a pretty compelling statistic.
It’s no secret that engaged agents are productive and happy agents. When your team is engaged, they are invested in the business. Conversion rates, accountability, and retention are all improved when your team understand their purpose in the organization and feel appreciated in their role. It’s a critical part to leading a successful real estate team.
Perhaps there are some team members whose contributions you might be taking for granted. Start by brainstorming a list and providing positive feedback in real time, when you see the behavior in action. The more specific you can be, the better, and when you start to notice what’s meaningful to a member of your team, the greater the impact will be.
How to Deliver “Tough Feedback”
Positive feedback and praise might be a bit simpler to deliver than what we typically consider “tough feedback.” It feels like delivering bad news and sometimes we take great lengths to avoid having the conversation. Maybe you have to tell a team member they dropped the ball on something important, or perhaps it’s something more personal. When you need to relay something like this to an employee there’s a lot of common problems that arise in managers.
- Losing emotional control. If you’re angry or upset with a team member, too often feedback is delivered without thinking it through. Instead of a teaching moment, the conversation often turns into a venting session.
- Avoiding or delaying delivery. It’s understandable to want to avoid a conversation where you think your team member might become defensive or upset, but in order to have a productive conversation about performance or interpersonal issues, things need to be addressed in a timely manner.
- Leaving negative feedback in the fine print. This is the idea of the “positive feedback sandwich” to the extreme. In an attempt to surround the negative feedback with positive feedback sometimes the most important message is lost in the conversation.
How to Deliver Effective Feedback to Your Real Estate Team
We have a clear understanding of how important feedback is, we know what traps to avoid, but how do we create the right feedback conditions so that a team member can absorb the information, reflect on it, and grow? Powerful, high-impact feedback conversations share the following elements:
- The right intentions. All productive feedback conversations should come from the intention to help an employee grow rather than show that he was wrong. Feedback should increase an employee’s motivation to change, not drain it. As a manager this means giving a great deal of thought into preparing for the conversation and creating a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what impact you’d like to have.
- An open and levelheaded approach. If you’re delivering tougher feedback, you want to create a high-quality connection with your team member and relay information in a way that will facilitate understanding and change. If you approach the conversation feeling uncomfortable and self-protective, your behavior will probably be matched and you will both become more frustrated.
- A collaborative attitude. Involve your team member in the discussion. Avoid lectures and long monologues, and instead invite them into a “problem solving discussion.” Pose questions like “What ideas do you have to help this situation?” “What are you taking away from this conversation?” “What steps will you take, by when, and how will I know?”
Giving developmental feedback that sparks growth is a critical challenge to master, because a single conversation can switch an employee on — or shut her down. A true developmental leader sees the raw material for brilliance in every employee and creates the conditions to let it shine, even when the challenge is tough.
Keeping Your Feedback Powerful and Productive
The best way to deliver feedback is by imagining you’re receiving it yourself. How would you want to hear it? Also, how would you want to experience it? Facial expressions and body language are critical to keep in check when you deliver feedback. Nods and smiles versus frowns and narrowed eyes or raised eyebrows, can make a huge difference in how your team member absorbs the information. The delivery of feedback can often be more important than the message itself, so here’s how to make sure you’re on the right path:
Work with a coach.
A great coach notices nuances in your behavior that you might not be aware of. They can help identify underlying assumptions, experiences, and personal qualities that make you prone to being uncivil or delivering feedback poorly. What are you doing that shuts people down, closes them off to your feedback, or creates resentment? Not everyone has access to coaches, but you can also reach out to colleagues and peers for help.
Encourage your team members to work on their feedback too.
Have an open discussion with your team about what you and your teammates do or say that conveys respect and is effective when providing feedback. What could you do or say better? It’s one of the best ways to get honest, direct feedback that can move your entire team forward.
Ask for feedback on your feedback.
Select a sampling of people you interact with on a daily basis. Ask them how good you are at giving feedback, and request specific details and examples. What was the context, what happened, and what did you do to make others respond positively to your (negative or positive) feedback? Look closely for recurring commonalities. Ideally, you’ll start to see a couple of specific areas for improvement. Check in periodically with these people, because they can help you gauge your improvement over time.
Providing effective feedback is a crucial managerial skill and the best way to focus on the progress your team is making progress. Research has even shown that a sense of progress is the most powerful motivator in the workplace, even stronger than compensation or personal recognition.
Always play up people’s strengths by providing your employees with specific feedback on how they are helping your team or organization. Deliver the tougher feedback with a clear game plan and productive conversation, and involve your team member in the problem solving process. Focus on how you deliver the feedback. Gather feedback from others. By incorporating all of these things into your management practices, you can foster a collaborative environment, ignite your employees’ potential, and help your team and business thrive.
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