Ten Tips for Providing Effective Feedback
Providing feedback is a vital skill that all good managers should possess. Even if the feedback is difficult or negative, the overall experience should always be a positive one, leaving both parties with a clearer understanding or solution.
If feedback is delivered poorly, the impact can be damaging and significantly reduce productivity.
Feedback should never be confused with criticism. It is information intended to help your colleagues improve their performance in the future.
1. Choose a suitable time and place
Make your environment as relaxing as possible. In order for your feedback to be processed properly, your surroundings should be quiet, comfortable and at a time that suits both parties. Make sure your colleague can hear what you have to say and is not distracted by other people around them.
Above all, make sure your feedback and discussion is given promptly if it relates to a specific incident or event.
2. Start with positive feedback
Before launching in to a negative statement, introduce positive feedback such as commendation or appreciation for something good your colleague has done. People respond well to praise and recognition, so by providing this first, negative feedback is more likely to be received effectively.
An example of this could be: “You’ve settled in really well and found your feet quickly. I’m very pleased with your progress so far, however, I would like to see more concise reporting on your daily tasks.”
A great way to motivate your colleagues is to encourage them to build on their strengths. Highlight, recognise and communicate their successes to the rest of the team. Give them positive feedback to show your appreciation.
4. Don’t be vague
When discussing feedback, be as specific as possible. Avoid ‘wishy-washy’ general comments that don’t fully explain your point. Instead of: “That was good”, elaborate and explain why it was good. What went well? What could have been improved?
5. Focus on change
Only provide feedback on things that the other person can do something about. If it is out with their control, don’t panic or confuse them with misleading feedback.
6. Provide details
Your colleagues will appreciate detailed feedback, as this gives them more opportunity for learning. Written feedback is a great way for people to reflect and remind them about the discussion that took place.
7. Be open to the acceptance or rejection of your feedback
Your feedback may be wholly accepted or met with resistance. Either way, you must respect the other person’s opinion. Keep in mind that you cannot impose beliefs, opinions, and attitudes on others. As long as you have been constructive and let the other person absorb the feedback, the chances of them acting on it will increase. Don’t force them to accept it instantly.
8. Suggest alternative actions
If you find it is only negative feedback you can provide, try to turn some of the negativity into positive suggestions. Disguise the negative aspects with alternatives, for instance: “How about you try to collate the information first to save time, rather than…”
9. Evaluate the facts, rather than judging them
When you give feedback, evaluate the criteria or facts that you observed or heard and what affect it had on you or other colleagues. Avoid using value judgements such as “That was terrible”, or “That was fantastic” type of comments. This will provide greater insight and depth to your feedback, without adding any prejudice.
10. Take ownership of your feedback
- Always open with “In my opinion”, or “I believe”, as it is important to take ownership of your feedback and avoid it sounding like a universal opinion.
- Follow up your feedback with another meeting to discuss the outcomes and learning from the previous discussion. Have they acted on the feedback? This may a good opportunity to highlight any other concerns.
- Always show your respect for the other person’s emotions, opinions, and beliefs.
- A possible outcome for negative feedback is that the other person will become angry, upset or annoyed. Be prepared for this and act as professionally as possible. Your working relationship may change significantly, but this may be for the best.
- Always confirm that the other person has fully understood your feedback and check if they agree or not with you.
- Ask the other person to set objectives for themselves to work towards. Request their co-operation and remind them of the benefits to their performance in the future. Ask if they have any suggestions of their own, only once they fully understand and accept your feedback.
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