Giving feedback in the work place is a critical part of managing people and interacting with colleagues. A research study conducted by Gallup in 2009 showed that when managers gave feedback to their employees, they were far more engaged than when they were ignored. (Read about the study here).
Managers generally find giving feedback uncomfortable especially with people they see on a regular basis. When some people hear the word feedback they tend to think it’s always a negative thing, this usually is based on their previous experience of receiving feedback only when they have done something wrong. This should not be the case as feedback is essential to our personal development.
Benefits of Feedback:
Since we are all encouraged to set goals, e.g. at the beginning of the year, it makes sense to see on going feedback as an opportunity to provide early intervention if someone is not hitting their mark. More importantly, it also provides the avenue for good work to be praised and reinforced.
Being able to give feedback therefore is a critical skill that is essential in your career progression, but when you are giving it, always have these four things in mind.
The Right Time
There is always a time and a place to give feedback, you have to be asking if the person you are giving feedback to is in the right frame of mind to receive the feedback especially if it is developmental. Positive feedback is very powerful when done in the moment or not too long after rather than waiting when that person has forgotten what they have done. The benefits of the positive feedback being done in real time is that it helps to embed the action and the person is most likely going to repeat that good behaviour again because it was rewarding. If you are addressing a negative behaviour then it is wise to ensure that this is done in the right environment and the right time, also ask yourself; is this a trend I am seeing? It is suggested that managers should have a 4:1 ratio; meaning highlight four positive behaviours to one negative. The remaining three points are ways on how you can do this more effectively.
What are you actually giving feedback on? This is a really important question that you will need to answer. Many times people can give vague feedback. Words such as “That’s a great job” or “What you just did was wrong” is not giving feedback, those are just statements. Your aim should be to be as specific as possible on the action you are giving feedback on. This means it should be something you have either heard, seen noticed or observed preferably by yourself as this gives credibility to the feedback given. Examples of how you will construct this could be“here is what I observed” “here is what I saw you do” “Over the past few weeks I have noticed…” It is important that you go ahead and state the action that you observed and in some situations (especially if you are correcting behaviour) get an affirmation from the person asking if they agree that what you’ve observed is an accurate assessment. E.g. “Can you remember?” or “would you agree?”, “Did you notice?”.
Effective feedback becomes useful to the hearer when they become aware of the impact their behaviour has had on either the person giving the feedback or those who were around them. Many of us are not always aware of the things we say or do, having a third party bring our attention to this normally helps us address this reality. Examples of what you can say are: “when you volunteered first, the impact it had on the others was that it got them to put themselves forward also”or another example of giving feedback to someone that has impacted you “when you took the time to help and listen to the client it helped me realise how I need to be doing the same also” here is an example of correcting a behaviour “when you were talking over the other members during the team meeting they suddenly stopped offering suggestions and looked intimidated”
The Next step
The final step in this process is to encourage a next step. If this is a behaviour you want to encourage then it makes sense to encourage the person with a “Keep up the good work” or “We need more people like you to be doing this!” If it is a behaviour you want to help the person stop doing then I suggest two ways of dealing with this:
- a) Ask them to please stop the behaviour – If this is a person you are managing then you can request they work on terminating this behaviour.
- b) Ask them how they think they can stop the behaviour – This is sometimes a more effective way to help a person take ownership of changing their behaviour by simply asking them “What do you think you can do to change this?”
Giving feedback is an essential skill we all need to develop as Leadership Author John Maxwell says “the people we have around us will determine the level of our success” therefore being in an environment where feedback is part of the culture is essential for high performance.
Without good feedback how would we know how we are really doing?
Share with your colleagues and comment below.
Hi Toye, thanks for this post. I’m a great believer in feedback, but find it hard to give as well as accept!
I especially liked your advice to say, “here is what I observed….” which is much less threatening than, “You should not do…..” It’s hard to give feedback if people are on the defensive, and a challenge tends to do this, while an observation leaves the future course of the conversation somewhat more open.
I have another post of my own to write on this topic based on some things my wife Penny has learned in her role as a trainer of GPs.
More on that another time.
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