We are all in a rush in our business lives but when it comes to feedback it is crucial to speak up immediately. Why? Because we forget and even if we remember to mention it later (usually at an official point such as an appraisal) it will, at best fall flat, or at worst create resentment.
Say for example, you notice a team member speak to a fellow member of staff using an abrupt and disrespectful tone of voice. If you bring up the incident at some later point they will struggle to remember the exact context of the remark and may:
a) refuse to accept your version of what happened and deny everything
b) accept what you say but, being unable to explain or defend themselves, remain feeling resentful
Much, much easier to just take them aside immediately and, without fuss or drama, simply state ‘I can’t help noticing the way in which you spoke to your colleague just then. The tone of voice you used was like this (mimic the voice if you can). Whatever the reason, I expect all of us to speak to each other respectfully at all times’.
Undoubtedly they will come back with some form of defence which is the natural thing to do. You may learn of some very good reason why they were pushed into speaking with a sharp tone! However, it is a simple thing of reconfirming ‘I understand why you felt a degree of frustration, however, I need to emphasis that it important that we all speak to each other respectfully at all times, whatever the provocation.’ And then go on to specify how they could have respectfully voiced their viewpoint and what action they could have taken in that circumstance.
The example I have used above is about negative feedback but exactly the same rules apply for positive feedback. You see a great piece of work, will you really remember the exact details of what they did so brilliantly six months later at an official appraisal? No, didn’t think so. Speak up now.
Additional note: Important to realise that when it comes around to that annual or biannual formal performance appraisal, our memory generally only goes back about 2 months. So keeping a record will help you to be fairer and truthful at these official recordable points. Just have one of your regularly monthly tasks to write short notes on the performance, good and not so good, of each of your reports. This will help you better manage some game playing staff who only switch on the ‘star performance’ just before appraisals!