Giving and receiving feedback whether at work or home can be challenging. In the work setting, whether it is giving feedback during a “coachable moment” or a more formal context such as performance appraisal or review, there are some principles – discussed below, which make the giving and receiving of feedback positive and constructive. While there is a move towards feed forward now, especially in the work setting, giving and receiving feedback is still something we find ourselves doing.
Before you give feedback
1. Be clear about your intention in giving the feedback. Keep it constructive and “clean.” Don’t “contaminate” with indirect, implied or mixed messages.
2. Make sure that feedback has been asked for or that you have a relationship or context in which giving feedback is an accepted part of that relationship or process.
3. Giving feedback is not about “dumping on the other person.”
4. Choose your time and place well e.g. not when others are present.
5. Make it constructive and of value to the recipient and the relationship.
6. Think about how you as the manager may be able to provide support and or resources, which will help shape the person’s future behaviour and help them work on that vital feedback.
7. Put yourself in the other person’s moccasins as you plan and prepare what and how you give feedback.
How to give effective feedback
1. Focus on specific behaviour, not the person e.g. you were late again for the morning team meeting versus, “you are so totally unreliable!”
2. Focus on describing – not judging, giving advice or being moralistic.
3. Give feedback on observation and facts rather than subjective inferences.
4. Avoid absolutes – “either/or”, “always/never”. Make your feedback descriptive of behaviour in terms of “more or less.”
5. Keep to specific examples in the present rather than generalizing.
6. Be coach like and focus on exploring alternatives with the person rather than “tellling them” the answers or solutions.
7. Offer feedback according to the amount of information the person can use at the time, rather than all that you have to give. This is not your time to finally “let rip!”
Why is feedback so important?
Research shows that feedback has the power to direct behaviour and motivate performance. You might even a recall time when this happened to you. What made the feedback so useful or significant? What did the feedback provider do that made it easy for you to receive their message?
And while we are on that topic, the following approach will help you in receiving feedback:
1. Practice good listening
2. Ask for clarification if you are left with a mixed message
3. Ask for examples, if the feedback sounds general
4. You can share and say where you agree, disagree and why but do a self-check and be aware that you are not just being defensive.
5. If you find yourself feeling defensive, use dad Singh’s timeless gems. He cheered me up often by asking these questions!
a) Ask yourself – “Has this person got positive intention towards me?” What is the point of their feedback?
b) Are they qualified to give you this feedback? e.g. they have expertise, are experienced and or know you very well to be in a position to give you feedback.
c) Is there something you can learn from what they are saying?
6. Ask for time for reflection and have a further advancing conversation.
7. Contrary to myth, we are never too late or old to learn new things. Our brains love stimulation and new ideas!
The SQ Perspective
The SQ perspective is that our ability to learn, develop and grow is fundamentally tied with our ability to be open to feedback. We are constantly adjusting, re-calibrating what works or doesn’t and the feedback loop is a critical part of that self-adjusting/learning process. Giving and receiving feedback is an important factor in increasing our effectiveness.
As in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
The SQ Application
Over the coming weeks, I would like to invite you to become more conscious of the following:
1. How you give feedback?
2. How is feedback given to you?
3. How you receive feedback?
4. Practice old dad Singh’s Rule – number 5 – a, b, and C.