How To Give Feedback

As mentioned in last week's article, the key impetus for for looking into the delicate nature of giving and receiving feedback originated from my personal experience through workplaces, interviews, and the stories of countless coached clients. Through my interactions with clients and collaborators as a consultant and a business owner, I noticed that people are generally uncomfortable with giving or receiving feedback. This could also be the reason why organizations often profess the significance of feedback and yet confine the process to mechanical 360-degree feedback sessions.

Now feedback, when wielded with the intent of fostering growth and continuous improvement, can be an effective approach to nurturing a psychologically safe workplace. Due to the lack of guidance, most C-Level exceutives and managers tend to conduct 360-degree feedback sessions as a mechanism for course-correction. As a result, we often lose the powerful narrative of how feedback is an effective process for nurturing individual and collective progress.

In this article, we'll explore the art of giving feedback, understanding how these interactions can uphold the safe environment we've previously discussed. Through effective communication and the right mindset, we can harness the potential of feedback to drive not only personal growth but also the thriving success of the entire organization.

Tips for Providing Feedback:

  1. Choose the Right Time and Place: Ensure that you're in a private and conducive environment to have a focused conversation without interruptions.

  2. Use "I" Statements: Start sentences with "I" to express your observations and feelings, making the feedback less accusatory. For instance, "I noticed that…" or "I feel that…"

  3. Be Specific: Provide concrete examples of behaviors or situations that illustrate your feedback. This makes it easier for the recipient to understand and act upon.

  4. Focus on Behavior, not Personality: Address actions and behaviors rather than making judgments about the individual's character.

  5. Use the "SBI" Model: Situation, Behavior, Impact. Describe the situation, the observed behavior, and the impact it had on the situation or others.

  6. Encourage Self-Reflection: Ask open-ended questions to encourage the recipient to reflect on their actions and potential improvements.

  7. Offer Solutions: Along with pointing out areas for improvement, suggest possible solutions or alternative approaches.

  8. Be Empathetic: Put yourself in the recipient's shoes and consider their perspective. This helps create a more understanding and open atmosphere.

  9. Be Direct and Concise: Deliver your message clearly and directly, avoiding overly vague language or unnecessary filler words.

  10. End on a Positive Note: Highlight the recipient's strengths and acknowledge their efforts, showing that the feedback is aimed at growth, not criticism.

Words to Avoid and Encourage:

  • Avoid: "Always" or "never" (can sound accusatory); "You should have" (can come across as judgmental).
  • Encourage: "I noticed that…"; "One suggestion could be…"; "Have you considered…"; "In my opinion…"

    Now, the ultimate goal of feedback is growth and improvement. Both providing and receiving feedback are skills that can be developed over time. With practice and a positive attitude, you can foster a culture of effective feedback and continuous learning in the workplace.

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