The Importance of Giving Feedback to Others

Meeting to Discuss FeedbackGiving and receiving feedback is an important part of being a leader, supervisor, and manager. The goal of giving feedback to your employees, partners, and colleagues is to provide them with information designed to help improve results as well as their relationship with you and the others in the group.

Giving feedback can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you don’t do it often. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If you approach the idea of giving feedback to others by having good intentions and using a proven process, there’s almost no way you can go wrong.

The truth is that most people actually want feedback because they want to improve themselves and do a better job. It’s a rarity that anyone would come to work with a desire to fail and do a terrible job.  However, in a lot of cases workers who never receive any kind of feedback from their bosses never know if they are doing things satisfactorily or not.

With a lack of leadership, workers may be left to “figure it out” on their own. People want and need to know how they are doing in order to be able to improve themselves. People also need to know that they are valued and that their contributions matter. A failure to engage employees and provide feedback will most certainly result in reduced productivity and a less cohesive team.

Why Do We Avoid Giving Feedback?

More often than not, leaders in the workplace (and in the home as well) don’t give feedback often enough. Providing frequent feedback can be challenging and many managers and supervisors try to avoid confrontation.  Talking with your employees and colleagues takes time out of everyone’s busy day and can often be an uncomfortable situation. In some cases, a manager or supervisor may have a fear of getting a potentially negative reaction from giving feedback to someone else.  As a leader, you cannot let your schedule or your nerves get in the way of speaking with your employees about their performance.  Giving feedback is essential for success. Moreover, giving feedback improves relationships, attitudes, and builds a stronger team.

Feedback Well Recieved with a Hand Shake

General Rules about Giving Feedback

Of the utmost importance when giving feedback is to remain positive.  Speak positively and don’t attack someone’s character.  Work on trying to build someone up rather than tearing them down.  Also focus on being honest.  If you have to give negative feedback avoid just “telling it like it is” but don’t beat around the bush either.  Negative feedback should be framed in a positive light and be given in a way that encourages improvement.  This can be accomplished by explaining how the criticism is meant to improve productivity, reduce waste and rework, while also building trust. When giving negative feedback it helps to use the Oreo cookie technique. Counter balance the negative feedback t by providing positive feedback before and after it. It’s also important to monitor your body language so that you aren’t sending the incorrect signals to the feedback receiver.

Making it Easier to Give Feedback

As with most things in life, following a step-by-step process can make it easier to tackle a challenging problem.  In the case of providing feedback to others, following a proven process is the best way to get the positive results that you desire.

This process includes 5 easy to follow steps: 1) Prepare Yourself, 2) Think Critically, 3) Create a Message, 4) Deliver the Feedback, and 5) Close and Offer Encouragement.

Prepare Yourself – This is where you take the time to prepare yourself for giving feedback. Mental preparation, like adjusting your attitude and emotions and rehearsing the feedback will help set the stage. It also helps to ensure that the environment around you is prepared for the meeting.

Think Critically – This is where you think critically about the reason why you are giving feedback.  It’s important to make sure that your intentions are correct and that your goal is to help them and the team rather than to serve a selfish need. In addition, it’s important to think about the character and personality of the person that you are providing feedback to. Things like gender, age, race, religion, and upbringing can all play a role in how feedback should be provided and how it may be received.

Create a Message– Choose your words carefully so that the message is both clear and concise.  Make sure the other party fully understands what you are saying by ensuring that what you are saying is specific and observable.  Don’t speak in generalities and avoid using ambiguous terminology.  Ask the other person questions to be certain that they have received the message and fully comprehend it.

Deliver the Feedback – When delivering feedback, it can help to first ask permission (e.g. Can I speak with you for a moment?).  Next, offer words of appreciation to set the tone for the feedback session.  Be sure to be positive with everything that you say.  Be cognizant of your body language, tone of voice, and don’t get emotional or angry.  Keep the conversation open and as two sided as possible.

Close and Offer Encouragement – All feedback sessions need a closure.  Be open-minded and offer words of encouragement if the feedback that was received is negative.  Also offer to be supportive and give them ample opportunities to ask for help.  End the meeting by having an action plan and a deadline.  And finally, be sure to thank the person for their time and for listening to what you had to say.

Feedback Follow Up

In the weeks or months to come, be sure to follow up with the individual to see their progress and if improvements been made. If improvements have been made then you know that the feedback was beneficial and you can use that experience for future reference. You can utilize your feedback giving experience for future situations.  If the result of the feedback session did not go as desired, then you may need to revisit giving the feedback.  In this case, it may help to ask the individual what they feel they need to make the improvements that you need them do. Remember that giving feedback is not a onetime thing.  Giving feedback should become a regular part of being a leader.

Feedback written on a chalkboard

Additional Resources and Information on Giving Feedback

Many of the source ideas for the discussion presented here came from the book called Feedback Revolution by Marjorie M. Mauldin (Available on Amazon (affiliate link).  It is also available on the author’s website at www.ilovefeedback.com. For additional resources and tips on giving feedback to others, I encourage you to check out their website.  They offer online and in person training as well as additional materials that you can use to improve your company and relationships.

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