Effective Feedback in the Workplace: 8 Tips
Feedback – how do you give and receive feedback in the workplace? Should you ask for it? Demand it? What is the point of it?
Yes, feedback is an integral part of the “way we work” but only if it’s constructive.
Recently a GM told me that she repeatedly asked her team for performance feedback and was pleased that it was positive. She was enormously proud of this result. On questioning further, I discovered that in her catch-up meetings, she asked her direct reports for feedback at the beginning of each session. She thought she was being open, honest, and inclusive.
I challenged her thinking through the following questions:
• Did she give notice so that the individual had time to prepare?
• Did she ask for constructive feedback?
• Did she frame the conversation in a non-confrontational manner?
• Did she ask questions regarding behaviours she could improve?
• How comfortable was the participant? Could they have been concerned about repercussions?
She was genuinely surprised that I was so circumspect and admitted that she hadn’t thought it through in detail. However, on review, she could see that feedback shouldn’t be positive or negative, but constructive to enable growth and learning. Also, that preparation and setting the scene is required, even if the participant is perceived to be unthreatened.
So, when you’re asking for or giving feedback, I recommend you use the following tips:
1. Ask for permission/consent by the individual to either give or receive feedback
2. State your intention and consider preparation and timing
3. When giving feedback be specific; focus on behaviour you’ve observed, not heard about.
4. Don’t assume that the person is receiving or giving feedback without pressure
5. Frame the meeting honestly
6. Be clear, describe the impact of the behaviour and how it affects you and others
7. Recommend other ways to behave/respond
8. Follow up
And above all, don’t assume that feedback is easy for some to give or receive. There could be a world of pain or baggage behind the story. Be fair and set the scene.