"Constructive feedback is the key to unlocking potential." - Michael G. Winston
Feedback in the corporate workplace refers to information given to an employee regarding their performance or behaviour. It can come from a manager, a colleague, a customer, or anyone who has interacted with the employee in a professional setting. Feedback can be positive or negative, and it can be provided through various channels, such as verbal communication, written reports, or formal evaluations.
The purpose of feedback is to help employees understand how their behaviour or performance is perceived by others, and to identify areas for improvement or areas where they are excelling. Feedback can be used to reinforce positive behaviours and performance, or to correct negative behaviours and performance.
Effective feedback is specific, timely, and actionable. It should be given with the intention of helping the employee improve, rather than to criticize or punish them. Feedback should be delivered in a respectful and constructive manner, and it should be focused on specific behaviours or actions, rather than personal traits or characteristics.
When giving constructive feedback, it is important to include the following elements:
- Specificity: The feedback should be specific and detailed, focusing on particular behaviors or actions that need improvement.
- Clarity: The feedback should be clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical language that the recipient may not be familiar with.
- Balance: The feedback should be balanced, highlighting both positive aspects of the recipient's performance and areas for improvement.
- Timeliness: Feedback should be timely, provided as close to the event as possible, so the recipient can remember the situation and take immediate corrective action.
- Non-judgmental tone: Feedback should be provided in a non-judgmental tone, avoiding language that may come across as accusatory or critical.
- Concrete examples: It is essential to provide specific examples of situations where the recipient could have done better, rather than just making generalizations.
- Goal-oriented: The feedback should be goal-oriented, with specific suggestions for how the recipient can improve their performance.
By including these elements in your feedback, you can ensure that it is constructive, helpful, and actionable.
Have you ever heard someone give a feedback that sounds like this;
"Your presentation was terrible. You didn't talk about the important stuff and you spoke way too fast. It was a waste of time for everyone involved."
What went WRONG?
In this example, the feedback is poorly given because it lacks specificity, balance, and a goal-oriented focus. The feedback is not specific, as it doesn't provide any examples of what the employee did wrong. It is not balanced, as it doesn't provide any positive feedback on what the employee did well. Finally, the feedback is not goal-oriented, as it doesn't provide any suggestions for how the employee can improve their presentation skills. Additionally, the feedback is provided in an accusatory and critical tone, which is likely to make the employee defensive and less receptive to feedback in the future.
On the contrary, a well-structured feedback will sound like this;
"John, I wanted to give you some feedback on the presentation you gave yesterday. I thought you did a great job of explaining the project's objectives, but I noticed that you didn't spend as much time discussing the key challenges we're facing. To make your presentation more effective, it would be helpful if you could include some concrete examples of the challenges we're facing and how we're planning to overcome them. Also, I noticed that you tended to speak quite quickly at times, which could make it difficult for the audience to follow. To improve, you might want to practice slowing down your pace and using more pauses to emphasize important points. Overall, I think you have a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing how you continue to grow in your role."
What WORKED WELL in this feedback?
In this example, the feedback includes specific examples of areas for improvement (including what the employee did well and where they can improve), is timely (provided soon after the presentation), and is goal-oriented (with specific suggestions for how the employee can improve their presentation skills). Additionally, the feedback is provided in a non-judgmental tone, highlighting the employee's potential for growth and development.
"The purpose of feedback is not to prove that you're right, but to help the other person get it right." - Unknown
Intention is important while giving feedback because it can significantly impact the effectiveness of the feedback and the recipient's willingness to accept it. It can:
Build trust: When the intention is to help the recipient improve, it can build trust and create a positive environment for feedback. The recipient is more likely to be open and receptive to the feedback when they feel that the feedback giver has their best interests at heart. Reduce defensiveness: When the intention is to help, the recipient is less likely to become defensive or resistant to the feedback. They are more likely to view the feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement, rather than as criticism or an attack.
Increase motivation: When the intention is to help the recipient improve, it can increase their motivation to change and take action. The recipient is more likely to see the feedback as an opportunity to improve their skills and achieve their goals.
The intention behind the feedback can significantly impact its effectiveness and the recipient's response. When the intention is positive and focused on helping the recipient improve, it can lead to more productive conversations and positive outcomes.
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill
Receiving feedback can be difficult for some people due to vulnerability towards acknowledging one's weaknesses and areas for improvement, fear of criticism or ego.
Here are some tips on how to receive feedback with grace:
- Listen actively: When receiving feedback, it's important to actively listen to the feedback giver. Avoid interrupting or getting defensive, and instead focus on understanding their perspective and feedback.
- Ask clarifying questions: If you're unsure about something the feedback giver said, ask clarifying questions to ensure that you fully understand their feedback.
- Thank the feedback giver: Acknowledge the feedback giver for taking the time to provide feedback and showing that you appreciate their input.
- Don't take it personally: Remember that feedback is about the work, not about you as a person. Try not to take feedback personally and avoid becoming defensive.
- Focus on the positive: Even if the feedback is negative, try to focus on the positive aspects of the feedback. Look for areas where you can improve and grow, rather than dwelling on the negative aspects.
- Use the feedback constructively: Use the feedback to improve yourself or your work. Consider implementing the feedback and ask for support if necessary.
- Follow up: After receiving feedback, consider following up with the feedback giver to discuss any changes you made based on their feedback or to thank them again for their input.
Remember that receiving feedback is an opportunity for growth and improvement. By receiving feedback with grace and an open mind, you can become a better version of yourself and improve your work.