Giving and receiving feedback can be a fraught experience; if you are the one giving feedback then you can be concerned about coming across as too critical, pedantic or the opposite, not interested at all. Conversely, if you are the person receiving feedback, you might have concerns about your performance, achievement levels or work relationships.
Giving and receiving feedback is often viewed with a certain level of tension – no matter which side of the desk of you happen to be sitting.
Learning how to frame feedback constructively, understanding how to help colleagues develop skills, improve performance and encourage motivation is a vital talent for those in leadership roles and can be an enjoyable experience for all involved with the right attitude and experience.
What is Feedback?
Giving feedback should not be seen as an opportunity to blame colleagues for petty, past misdemeanours or for just singing someone’s praises.
Effective feedback is constructive information about work performance, relationships, targets and goals, and should be used as an opportunity to touch base with employees, identify potential issues, consider strengths to build upon and improve the firm’s overall service or performance.
Using this definition to construct feedback sessions will help those giving the feedback by ensuring it is on point and productive, and will assist those receiving the feedback by ensuring they can actively engage with points raised.
Consider framing feedback sessions using the following points:
1. What is the Purpose of Feedback?
For most firms the purpose of feedback is to improve performance.
For the individual receiving feedback the aim is to learn more about themselves and their work, and find out how they could improve or where they are going awry.
Learning to convey constructive criticism is a skill that can take time to master – telling someone they are ‘bad’ at something is neither constructive nor pleasant. The recipient will only hear they are no good at something, without learning how to correct it or how they can improve.
Similarly, telling someone they did a great job, without telling them what was great about it and why, does not help the recipient understand what they are doing well or gain a fresh perspective on different methods.
Instead, showing someone what they have done well, or where they could do better, by using an example of their work and explaining how could be improved will give useful information that employees can use to their benefit in the future.
2. Who is Receiving the Feedback?
There are different kinds of feedback that should be used depending upon who is receiving the information.
For instance, if it is a long-standing employee with years of experience, they don’t want to simply be told they are ‘doing a great job, carry on as usual’, instead they want to know how to fine tune their work processes, discuss their developments in leadership, or reflect on improving specific skill sets.
However, a junior member of your team is likely to need reassurance about their work including, examples of something they did well (and why) and how to achieve that in other areas where they feel they are falling short.
Giving feedback frequently can be an excellent way of expressing appreciation, catching potential problems before they become worse, and is an ideal opportunity for making improvements regarding ‘real-time’ issues.
3. How to Give Effective Feedback
Effective feedback should be delivered directly and precisely with a caring attitude. There is no reason to be unkind, even if someone is failing spectacularly!
By creating feedback sessions based around the above points you should be able to identify an individual’s strengths or weaknesses and be in a position to give helpful suggestions about how to improve or build upon successes.
Remember, don’t target an individual’s personality, you should only be assessing their work and the impact they have on your firm. Put yourself in their shoes and be compassionate, don’t ‘talk down’ to colleagues, instead talk to them in the same manner you would like someone to talk to you.
Giving effective feedback is about utilizing good communication skills. Ask open questions, listen and respond to answers and be mindful of others’ feelings.
To find out more about how Creative Word Training can help you master the necessary skills to give effective feedback, click here. Alternatively, to talk to one our team about our courses, please contact us.