Let me just go ahead and say, you are terrible at giving feedback. And… if you want to be successful in this world (which you probably aren’t if you’re reading this)…you have to read this post.
Stop…wait…don’t leave just yet.
Ask yourself: how did that intro make you feel? Maybe sad or disappointed, but more likely offended! We don’t know each other, and I’ve just imposed a baseless opinion on you. The chances of you listening to anything else I say are probably blown.
Ok, let me try this again
Hi, my name is Eric. I’m a productivity and time management strategist and I’d like to share with you a few tips on how to give feedback that people actually want to receive. I have done quite a bit of research on the topic of feedback; however, I don’t have all the answers. And, I want to learn more from you.
At the end of this page, I want to give you an opportunity to coach me on your tips for giving better feedback and also tips I can use to write a better post.
Would you be willing to invest just a couple minutes of time for this win-win? Great!
The dreaded performance review
Most organizations say they have some type of performance management system in place today. However, 28% of employees from the same companies said their organization is not effective at properly running these review programs. One of the big reasons is ineffective feedback.
Feedback should be designed to give employees and organizations an opportunity to reflect on performance and look forward to growing the relationship together. But that isn’t always the intent.
Feedback should never be given just once or twice per year. However, that’s often the only time some employees get a sense for how they are performing.
Large numbers of organizations have been moving away from these infrequent performance management processes to more agile, regular feedback loops with their employees.
Whether a large process shift like this is what a company needs, or simply developing a culture that craves working like a real team… regular feedback is at the heart of quality feedback.
Employment is a relationship. It’s a relationship between the organization and the employee, a manager and her employee and the organization and the manager.
Like any good relationship, feedback is part of an ongoing process of improving that relationship. Remember the old saying “relationships are 50/50”? It implies that each party needs to contribute half to make it work.
Each party needs to contribute MORE than half to make a relationship grow. People do this by investing in making the other person successful. When both people do this, success blossoms.
Earn the right to give
No matter what the cadence is, accepting feedback is as important of a skill as giving it well. Great leaders know this and are constantly seeking ways to help make themselves and the whole team better. Leaders do this by ask their teams to coach them on better serving the team.
Teams respect leaders more for this and it makes it easier and almost natural when that leader needs to provide a team member with feedback. Also better serving the purpose in which the feedback was given.
How to give feedback
With these major concepts as a back drop: Frequency, Relationship, Respect… here are my 5 tips on giving better better feedback.
1. Only give feedback when it is requested or expected
We all have that friend or co-worker that loves to be critical of everything everyone does. These
individuals love to share their opinion whether it is warranted (or appropriate). In most cases, this opinion is less credible because of the intent behind which it was given. People will respect your feedback (and you) more when you give feedback only during appropriate times.
If you would like to give feedback, when it may not be expected, see #5 about asking for feedback from the other person first. It’s also possible that your feedback is based on information you are missing and feedback from the other person may better inform your thoughts.
2. Be clear about the type of feedback the other person expects to receive
When someone asks you for feedback, do you know exactly what they are expecting? If you aren’t sure, ask. Some people are only seeking validation that they are doing good work. Others may want more specific examples of things they can improve.
If you are required to give feedback on a colleague (i.e. performance review process), it is important to understand how that feedback will be used in a colleague’s formal review. If the feedback is truly a mechanism for improvement, it maybe give you more liberty to be honest about challenges. However if that feedback is used to compensate or rank an individual, you’ll want to be clear about accurately portraying your feedback relative to those guidelines.
3. Be a good recipient of feedback
Receiving feedback gracefully is equally as important as knowing how to give feedback. This difficult skill will enable you to be more aware of what good feedback looks like, which will in turn make you a better feedback giver.
Like #2, you also need to be clear on expectations around what type of feedback you are looking for. Good leaders lead by example. By doing so, it is a sure fire way to earn the respect of your team, get the feedback you need and set yourself up for delivering quality feedback when that time comes.
4. Never deliver negative feedback in front of others
This tip extends beyond just the performance review process. It applies to every day of the year and applies to our personal lives as well. A performance review, as well as feedback in general, is typically a stressful conversation for both the feedback receiver and the feedback giver.
One thing that can make the process down right toxic is delivering any type of negative feedback in front of co-workers (or friends). This includes small comments, gestures or other non-verbal communication. It’s simply better long term to discretely grab a private space to have that candid conversation.
5. When appropriate, follow up delivering feedback with an opportunity for the other person to give it to you
Feedback is a two way street. It’s critical for both parties to be on the same page regarding expectations. Often, one party has a different perspective that can inform the first party and change the original perspective on the feedback.
No matter what the feedback is, good or negative, it is important to follow up in the weeks or months ahead. As a leader, it’s important to notice which individuals make the effort to be a better teammate. When appropriate, make sure to praise that individual for the added effort. This will only increase the ability to provide more quality feedback and get a similar return
Feedback For Me
In the spirit of leading by example, I would love to know what your thoughts are.
- What additional tips would you like to share?
- How could my writing improve to make this (and future) posts better