Everyone learns from the right kind of feedback. Knowing what you did well means that you are more likely to do it again. Realising that you did badly, means that you know where you need to improve to stop it from happening again.
Even though the message can sometimes be hard to deliver, feeding back is a great way to support others, and asking for feedback is a great step towards personal development.
In this article, you’ll find some tips on both giving and receiving feedback.
People in general are not telepathic – they cannot read your mind. If you want them to change or improve the way they work, you must tell them why they need to change, what they need to do differently, and how they can do it.
So they need feedback which is:
- Fast – as soon after the event as is possible
- Regular – reports both good and bad results
- Objective – focusing on action, not personalities
- Specific – gives sufficient detail for action
- Supportive – helpful, non-threatening.
Delivering Feedback – focus on behaviour
Being able to give objective and positive feedback is an important key skill to develop. Feedback should focus on behaviour which the individual can change, not their personality, which they cannot.
It is worth considering different styles of feedback and their potential impact. For example, you overhear one of your team handling a difficult phone call with a customer. You do not feel that your team member handled the call well.
You could say either;
A ‘You didn’t handle that very well, did you?’
B ‘It sounded as though you’ve just had a difficult call. Can you tell me what happened?’
Which do think will be more effective?
Saying ‘A’ is unlikely to make him/her want to improve, it may either crush or anger them.
Saying ‘B’ will encourage them to tell you about the problem, opening up a discussion on where they could have behaved differently
A simple model for constructing feedback
It can be difficult to know how to put together effective feedback; the simple ”EEC” model below may give you a good starting point:
Example – state what happened – concentrating on the behaviour
Effect – state the effect of the behaviour on others/the team/customer/you
Change – state how you would like the behaviour to change in future
It’s also important that you avoid using generalisations, or accusations (e.g. “you always interrupt me”, “you’re always so rude”).
This is how some EEC feedback statements might sound:
Example 1: When you interrupt me before I’ve finished speaking
Effect: It makes me feel as though you’re not listening, or that you don’t care about my point of view.
Change: Please could you let me finish speaking in future.
Example 2: When you hand in your work late
Effect: It means that I don’t have the figures I need to complete the report for my manager
Change: What are you going to do to make sure that this work is completed on time in future?
Note that in example two, the Change takes the form of a question – this gives ownership for making the change back to the person receiving the feedback
With the right approach, preparation and attitude, feedback can be an enormously powerful tool for managers in improving the performance of their staff. Make sure that you follow up any developmental feedback with a discussion on how someone can improve, and what support they feel that they may need in order to do so.
Remember that feedback is also an excellent tool in recognising a job well done, so make sure that you apply the same rules of being specific and timely in delivering praise too.
A manager who delivers a good balance of developmental and appreciative feedback is likely to have a team that works hard on growing and who knows that their efforts are appreciated.