Feedback is great, right? Companies all strive to achieve a ‘feedback culture’ that allows an open conversation between employees, where they can highlight things the other person can do to develop.
When it’s done right, this kind of culture can be really positive and motivational but sometimes ‘feedback’ is a term that people use as a way of presenting criticism. So what can you do, when you’re giving feedback, to make sure it’s truly developmental? And how can you find opportunities for giving praise?
Ten top tips to better feedback
1. It’s specific – not general or abstract, and features particular incidents and moments as examples of what the person did or said. You’re aiming for something they understand well enough to be able to replicate it.
2. It’s objective – not based solely upon your opinion but founded on firm evidence. When you think about this reflect carefully on the opinion part – it maybe just your point of view.
3. It’s honest – not ‘sugar-coated’. Rather than ‘beating around the bush’, it’s expressed freely and clearly. The wheedle words you’re tempted to add just get in the way.
4. It’s simple – too much detail at any one time is overwhelming and undermining. Too little on the things someone has done well will mean they won’t know how to repeat their success.
5. It’s sensitive – not just going in with your ‘size nines’ and trampling over people’s feelings. Before you open your mouth think about what it will be like to be them receiving it.
6. It’s practical – and relates to something the person can actually do something about. If the other person can’t change it or learn from it don’t bother.
7. It’s also positive – much of what the person did may have been good, and that should be acknowledged not glossed over. Some of us shy away from praise or don’t need someone else to tell them they’ve done a good job – they just know inside. This can mean they forget that other people have a different way of knowing – that others gather it from an external source.
8. It’s supportive – and comes from a spirit of wanting to make things better. The best feedback lets the recipient know the giver really cares about them developing and wants them to succeed.
9. It’s about the behaviour, not the person – a comment on the particular task or action. The language you use will define the difference between these two. Choose your words with care.
10. It’s accepting and non-judgmental – acceptance is all about seeing the real and complete person in front of you, someone who is making choices about how to behave and act based on the experiences they’ve had in their lives so far in the same way that you are.