The Gift of Effective Feedback Part 2

Recently, I wrote about how seasonal ‘giving’ relates to an important gift that that we can make part of our day-to-day lives – effective feedback – and invited you to share your experiences. I’d like to thank everyone who sent in responses, and pass on some tips.

The first reply that caught my eye was from Shamus Doherty, who gives us all a reminder that feedback is a two-way street: "When giving feedback make sure the other party is willing to listen, otherwise there could be tears at bedtime." Good point, Shamus! Even feedback delivered with the best intentions can be counterproductive if given at the wrong time. But remember that uncomfortable, or even unwanted, feedback can be some of the most useful. As Binh Zientek writes: "Painful as feedback can be at times, I have always tried to listen to constructive ones and have always improved personally and professionally because of them. I also thank the other person for their feedback."

A formal feedback exercise can help take some of the pressure out the exercise, but it still requires some thought to get the most out of it. If you’ve been invited to give feedback, either in person or as part of a formal process (for example an appraisal or a 360 review), here are a few tips:

  • Give clear, honest feedback – comment on aspects of specific behaviour. Often the person requesting feedback is not aware of how their behaviour affects others. You may be able to highlight and reinforce certain positive and helpful characteristics. Equally, your feedback may clarify the reasons why it would be a good idea for them to make some changes.
  • Be constructive – it isn’t helpful to comment on things they cannot change, or to write feedback in a thoughtless way. If carelessly worded, at best, your comments could be dismissed – at worst, they may be damaging.
  • Think informally – be respectful, but not deferential; rather than focusing on your relative positions within the organisation, concentrate instead on the impact of the recipient’s actions.
  • Treat the request responsibly – don’t let personal quibbles or a bad day have an impact on the feedback you give. Give yourself time to do the review properly. If you want to have a look at the questions first and think about them before responding, log in to the questionnaire, but log out without submitting a response (once the review has been submitted, it cannot be re-done). When you are ready to complete the review, give the task your full attention.
  • Finally, remember that by giving good feedback, you are helping a colleague improve their performance. Ultimately, this benefits all members of the team.

I’ll leave you with a great response from Steve Pendray of ProCustomer, a Reputation Marketing company. When talking about his experience of 360 degree feedback, Steve’s comment was: " I realised that I now had a solid foundation on which to base my personal development. I would say that it was the most useful development tool I have ever used." He goes on to say, "Feedback for a business is a bit like going to the gym – you know it can be painful, but it’s also good for you. You pay the subscription with eagerness but, having joined, you can find 1001 excuses for not actually going."

Well said, Steve. The message here is if you take the task seriously and follow through with the exercise, then you reap the rewards!

1 comment so far

  1. Craig Harper on

    Hey Vandy,

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog.

    You’re so right about feedback and getting the people stuff right…

    Too many business owners and bosses get everything right except the people stuff… and they fail. Your biggest challenge in business (unless you’re flying solo) will not be about marketing, business models, your competition or corporate logo.. it will be about egos, attitudes, personalities, opinions, emotions and politics – people. If you can’t communicate, listen, manage, lead, resolve conflict and laugh…. don’t employ people.

    Keep up the great writing!

    Craig Harper

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