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You’ve Heard about SMART Goals, but what about CLEAR Feedback?

Mikaela Kiner
SMART Goals-CLEAR Feedback If you've been a part of a team, you have likely heard about SMART goals. We've all heard the importance behind creating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time–based, and perhaps even practiced setting some of your own within these parameters. SMART goals can be helpful, but they aren't the be–all end–all of goal setting. By giving the explicit advice to “make all goals achievable,” this could imply that our goals need to be supported by the skillset we already possess. Although setting achievable goals is important, it's also important to explore goals that will challenge us and require the development of new tools.As we move into Q1 we move into the business season of Performance Reviews and Goal Setting. This season provides a timely opportunity for leaders to provide feedback to their team members, and for everyone to look back on their goals from the previous year and think about their goals for the current year. This isn't to say that goals shouldn't be flexible and constantly reevaluated, but the turning of the decade does provide good motivation for reflecting and planning.Along with personal goal setting comes interpersonal feedback. In order to set goals for ourselves, we need to communicate with and learn from people who are (hopefully) skilled at evaluating our progress and whose insight can assist us as we map out our vision for the current year. Feedback sessions help create measurable clarity around outcomes that ground a conversation between the employee and the manager.
Since feedback is an integral part of goal setting, it deserves its own acronym: CLEAR.
C: Provide feedback that is CONTEXTUAL.
Feedback needs to be delivered in an agreed upon context. That is, managerial feedback should not be a surprise to the employee on the receiving end. If the feedback session is framed within the business objectives of the company and is anchored in a common framework, then both employee and manager can start from and build upon the same foundation.
L: LISTEN while giving feedback.
When giving feedback, it is important to remember that it should never be one–sided. Allow the feedback session to adapt the form of a dialogue, regardless of how you choose to structure it. Consciously and actively listening to the employee will allow for deeper collaboration and understanding.
E: Deliver feedback with the aim to EMPOWER
.Identifying areas for improvement is crucial in any feedback session, but just as important is collaborating to find actionable ways to improve. An employee can either walk away from a tough feedback session with a feeling of defeat or a feeling of empowerment. The same feedback could have been provided in both sessions, but simply providing tools and talking about paths towards improvement will put the power in the employee's hands and help them identify their next steps.
A: Give ACCREDITED feedback.
Feedback is best received when formatted around accredited data. Avoid phrases like “some people feel that you…” or “I personally think you…”, and instead present fair, evidence–based, transparent data to employees. This helps to remove any bias, as well as any feelings of being personally attacked on the employee's end.
R: Deliver feedback that RESONATES.
By learning your employee's feedback style, you will be able to more quickly connect with them and deliver more personalized feedback. Learning more about the individual helps to give feedback more depth, and power. Not everyone receives feedback in the same way. Learning your employee's individual language can help you structure feedback that will resonate with them. When managers are able to engage their employees in feedback sessions that simply go a bit deeper than surface level, this creates a healthy environment of trust where healthy employee–manager relationships are the norm.Reverb can help with your feedback and performance review process. Let us know when at
Mikaela KinerMikaela Kiner, CEO & Founder of Reverb, is a native Seattleite who's spent the last fifteen years in HR leadership roles at iconic Northwest companies including Microsoft, Amazon, PopCap Games and Redfin. She has an MS in HR Management with a certificate in Organizational Development and is an ICF credentialed coach. Mikaela delivers results by building trust and engaging her clients in creative problem solving. Clients appreciate her strategic thinking and hands on execution. You can find Mikaela on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.