Feedback – The Gift That Keeps On Giving
There are many formalised methods of providing feedback, like the 360-degree peer review which is often linked to the traditional performance appraisal. Here at Code Computerlove, we strive to deliver face-to-face feedback not only at appraisals but on a daily basis.
There is no doubt that providing feedback face-to-face can sometimes feel daunting and like you’re almost being confrontational, but delivered in the right way at the right time it can be immensely powerful.
In this article I’ll provide some useful tips on how to provide feedback and the benefits of doing this regularly, but first let’s look at what feedback is not.
Your presentation is rubbish, you should have done it like this…
Feedback is not a criticism or your opportunity to unload frustration by being ‘honest’ at the expense of another.
I’m sure we have all experienced someone giving us a piece of their mind in a way similar to this, we usually react in one of two ways:
- Feel hurt, then get mad and defend ourselves
- Sit and listen and feel hurt, but fail to take any of it onboard
Feedback can be destructive when it serves only our own needs and fails to consider the needs of the person on the receiving end. If you are delivering feedback with the sole purpose of making yourself feel better then you shouldn’t be doing it.
Whats the difference between feedback and advice?
Feedback involves the sharing of information which does not dictate how the other person should do things. Rather, it should highlight the impact of their behaviour on others, allowing them to recognise this and decide on an action themselves.
Whereas when we give advice we offer a solution and to some degree take away the receiver’s freedom to decide on an action themselves.
Advice – “A word of advice: at the next costing session you shouldn’t talk over others.”
Feedback – “At the last costing session you came across as very defensive, standing with your arms folded and when you kept talking over people I felt like you were being disrespectful.”
Why give feedback?
When you provide feedback you are looking to offer information that will be useful to another person when making decisions about how to behave in the future.
The key to collaboration, innovation and growth is to ensure that we are open and honest with each other and feedback plays a big part of that.
Take the example above where an individual, perhaps a senior member of the team, talks over others during scoping and costing sessions. That behaviour could well inhibit other members of the team who will withdraw and contribute less, perhaps resulting in poor decisions being made because of incomplete or inaccurate information.
By having that open and honest dialogue within a team you can encourage a change in an individual’s behaviour.
We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve – Bill Gates
How to give feedback effectively
As with most things there is a time and a place to give feedback. The following tips should help you deliver great feedback:
- Plan what you are going to say, jot down some bullet points and be clear.
- Don’t provide feedback in the heat of the moment; wait until you have calmed down and had a chance to reflect on what happened, then give the feedback.
- Don’t wait too long though – time diminishes the power of feedback, remember FAST: Frequent, Accurate, Specific, Timely.
- Do it in private.
- Choose an appropriate time. Providing feedback when the receiver is busy, stressed or distracted is likely to have no impact or cause a defensive reaction.
- Be specific in the feedback and relate it to a recent situation you were part of. Providing second-hand feedback from something you overheard is not recommended; instead, encourage the person concerned to provide the feedback first hand.
- Refer to what the person did to ensure it’s tangible. Avoid personal statements about them and keep the conversation about how their actions affect others:
- When you…(Describe the behavior.)
- I feel… (Describe how the behavior affects you.)
- The impact on me, on others, on the team is…
- Ask for their reaction to the feedback and listen to their response so that you might see the situation from their point of view.
When you arrived at the meeting 10 minutes late, I felt frustrated that I had to go back over ground already covered and it meant that the team wasn’t able to get through their presentation in the time remaining. In the future, I would appreciate if you arrived on time.
I was really proud of you when you presented your creative ideas to the client and it was clear that you had really thought about the client brief and how to take it in an exciting direction. Really well done.
After providing your feedback you should:
- Follow through on any agreements made.
- Ensure that any positive change in behaviour is fed back to the individual to help reinforce improvement
Feedback is a gift and its just as important to receive as it is to give.
Here are some tips for when you receive feedback:
- Listen to the other person’s feedback and let them finish.
- Feedback is another person’s perception of an event so don’t get defensive.
- Take a moment to reflect on what they have said and how a situation made them feel, and seek to understand that point of view.
- Appreciate the courageousness of the other party in providing the feedback.
- Thank the person who has given you the feedback, then go away and think about how you’d like to move forward.
So next time you are about to moan to a friend or colleague about something someone has done, take a moment to reflect and instead provide the feedback in person – this will benefit you, your team and ultimately your organisation.
Everyone wants to do a great job and we need to work together to help each other be the best we can.
So be courageous and have that unsaid conversation.