Providing feedback can be difficult, especially when you are concerned that it might not be well received. Similarly, asking for feedback can feel uncomfortable and cause some initial anxiety. However, feedback is an essential part of professional development that when given and received effectively can result in personal growth, improved performance, and strengthened relationships.
Giving Feedback Effectively
Prioritize your feedback to the most constructive and important points. Does your feedback provide potential value to the receiver? If you were receiving this feedback would you be able to act on it? Limit your feedback to the points that if acted on, will lead to growth. This also prevents the receiver from being overwhelmed by too much feedback.
Focus on the behavior, not the person or personality. One of the most important points is to ensure that you are not commenting on the receiver’s personality, character, intelligence, etc. Focus on the specific behavior, use “I” more than “you”, and avoid implying assumptions about why they are displaying that behavior.
Balance constructive criticism with positive feedback. A great strategy can be to “sandwich” constructive feedback between positive comments. This helps to keep things in perspective, bolster confidence, reinforce strengths, and serve as a reminder of behaviors to maintain.
Be specific. Stick to the facts, provide examples, and tell the person exactly what can be improved.
Be regular and timely. Provide frequent, prompt, and informal feedback as situations arise so that formal reviews or feedback sessions don’t feel surprising or overwhelming.
Asking for and Receiving Feedback
Create a space for truly honest feedback. It can be hard for some to give honest feedback to others, especially if they are your superior. Let them know that truthful and constructive feedback is the most helpful.
Listen, and be aware of your responses. Do you best not to judge any feedback given, truly listening to what they are saying with an open mind and without thinking about your response as they speak. Be attentive, and aware of your body language. If you seem distracted, interrupt, or are defensive you will be much less likely to get truly honest feedback in the future.
Take notes. This shows the other person that you value their feedback and are taking it seriously. Reflect on your notes afterward and consider how you can use them to improve or create a list of goals.
Look for themes. When receiving feedback from multiple people, look for common themes and consider taking action on those. Most of us tend to focus on the most negative piece of feedback we receive as opposed to looking for areas where we stand to grow the most, or where our efforts toward growth would have the biggest impact.
Thank the person for their feedback.
Feedback is a Gift
Feedback is a crucial building block for growth, a surefire way to learn useful information, and improve employee engagement. Make it your mission to build a feedback-safe environment because after all, if you don’t know, you can’t grow.
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