Smart Learning Lessons: "Feedback"
Feedback is an essential part of appraisal and one of the keys to improving performance. But there is a right way and a wrong way to give it. When you follow the 8 rules below, you'll be able to give feedback that works every time.
Feedback Tip 1. Give Feedback for the Right Reasons
There's only one reason for giving someone feedback and that's to help them learn, develop, and grow. If you're motives are not to be helpful, then don't give feedback.
Feedback Tip 2. Pick the Right Moment
You can give feedback at any time but there are some times when it works better than others. If you've observed someone doing a task and you think you could help them do part of it better, then the best time is soon after the task while memories are fresh. Pick a moment when people are receptive. Remember, that sometimes people can be apprehensive about having their performance discussed so choose your moment and your words carefully. Don't make a big deal of it. Don't pick a time when people are otherwise occupied or pre-occupied, or when they are emotional or stressed.
Feedback Tip 3. Don't Put them Down
People often go wrong in giving feedback by appearing to criticise the person. This then causes a defensive reaction which makes further feedback impossible. The best way round this is to avoid putting people down by focusing on what they did. A good phrase that sums this up is: "Praise the worker, criticise the work". Remember, most people appreciate suggestions about what they can do better. They rarely like direct attacks on themselves.
Feedback Tip 4. Focus on Behaviour
When you focus on observable behaviour, people are always more receptive to feedback. You could, for example, say something like, "I noticed you jumped in with your pitch after just a couple of minutes. Have you thought about spending a little longer listening?". Or, use the second-person technique: "John used to do the same as you and he found it easier to ask at least 10 questions first".
Feedback Tip 5. Balance Your Feedback
There is always a danger in giving unremittingly positive or unremittingly negative feedback. The first may lead to complacency on the part of the person; the second to gloom. Instead, balance your feedback with a mix of positive feedback (behaviour that you liked and want to see more of) and constructive feedback (behaviour that you want to see less of).
Feedback Tip 6. Own Your Feedback
Take responsibility for the views you give. Make it clear that they are only your views and the person may not necessarily agree with them. What you are offering are suggestions for helping people do better, not universal truths.
Feedback Tip 7. Relate Feedback to Goals and Standards
By connecting your feedback to the goals and standards the team are trying to achieve, you'll set your feedback into the context, not of what is right for you, but what is right for the organisation, eg "if you maintain eye contact a little longer, the customer will trust you more and be ready to buy".
Feedback Tip 8. Feed Back On Good As Well As Poor Performance
You don't have to wait till someone is performing badly to give feedback. You can feed back when you see someone doing something you like and would like to see more of just as much as feeding back on things you didn't like and think they should change. One common technique is the Feedback Sandwich which alternates positive feedback with negative and then positive again, as in a sandwich.
Feedback is one of the best appraisal and coaching tools around. Use it with your own staff, your own team, and even your own boss. When you learn and practise these 8 rules, you'll be able to do it automatically for the benefit of the whole team.