At some point in your career, you will probably find yourself in a situation where you need to give feedback. It might be for someone you mange, or it might be for a peer or even someone junior to you. It might be work related, it might be more of an etiquette or personal preferences matter. Whatever the reason, you will need to think about how best to deliver that feedback so that it gets the results you want. All too often, feedback is delivered badly, and this can result in arguments and hostile work environments. To help you consider and deliver feedback in a more constructive way, we have a few tips for you.
Are You Giving Feedback Against Measurable Criteria?
First, take a look at what you’re giving feedback on. Is there a measurable criteria or standard to measure it against? For example, is your feedback that you’ve noticed they aren’t adhering to the company policy on returns? Or is it more along lines of you not liking the way they handled a certain issue? The first example is something structured that you can give measurable feedback against, since there is a standard there to reference and compare to. But the second option is an opinion, which is not specific or measurable, and might not be useful as feedback.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Although your co-workers might seem thick skinned and able to take anything that’s thrown at them, don’t take that for granted. They might be soft in the middle! That means you need to think about how you phrase your feedback so that you don’t hurt their feelings. Use what you know about them to consider how they might react, and choose an approach that’s right for them. And if they do seem to be taking it badly during the conversation, be prepared to moderate your language and tone to prevent any accidental insults.
Focus On A Positive Outcome
The point of giving feedback is usually to improve performance or correct behaviour if it’s been wrong. It is not a disciplinary interview, or a chance to tell someone off. If that’s what you’re feeling at the time, it’s worth stepping back and waiting for the anger to subside before you give some helpful feedback. Instead of dwelling on negatives, try to focus on how to improve, steps that could be taken and praising good work done. Keeping it balanced will prevent the feedback from being taken too badly, and will leave the individual feeling positive and motivated moving forward.
Show Good Listening Skills
There is nothing that aggravates people more than not being listened to – it’s a pretty universal complaint. When you’re giving feedback, make sure you remember that it’s a two-way process. So while you do need to make your point and deliver your feedback, you also need to listen to what the person you’re talking to has to say. You never know what information they might have that you don’t. Listen attentively and use that to build rapport and trust with them.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
A good coach, leader or facilitator asks questions to get the team members to open up and identify their own strengths and potential development areas. This also helps engage people in the feedback process, and feel involved in their own future improvement. Closed questions usually end up in a more hostile and combative, one-sided conversation, whereas open questions create a collaborative space for new ideas and suggestions. If you aren’t great at thinking these things up on the go, it’s worth preparing a few open-ended questions in advance.
Give Feedback Promptly
In an ideal world, feedback would be given on the spot, as soon as the event has occurred. However this isn’t always practical, and often it takes a few minutes or hours of distance from it to realise that feedback is required. But the value of feedback is diminished if it’s given too long after the event, and the longer you wait, the more irrelevant it gets. So where you can, try to give feedback promptly. Immediate feedback is much more powerful, and the discussion is then based on remembered recent events rather than distant memories.
At Learning Curve, we develop bespoke training solutions that work for you and your business. Our workshops and one to one coaching can cover a number of issues, from presentation and sales skills to effective management and feedback. If you would like some help in giving constructive feedback to your team, or just want to brush up on the basics, get in touch with us today.