Feedback is an indispensable ingredient of any successful learning recipe, whether you are an employee or an employer. It gives you the chance to turn dissatisfaction into satisfaction and it contributes to the personal development of the person in question.
Moreover, constructive feedback contributes to Purple Management. By giving feedback to your colleagues, employees and employer alike, you ensure that the typical hierarchy disappears and your organisation is completely future-proof.
However, the line between feedback and criticism is a thin one, which makes it important to approach the giving of feedback in a good way. If you do this wrong, it can have the opposite effect.
The person you are giving feedback to (whether this is a colleague or your employer) may feel offended and the message may miss the mark. And that would be a shame.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at the art of giving feedback and we explain what you shouldn't do.
When you wait too long to give feedback, the person in question thinks he/she is doing well. He/she continues working in the same way because he/she thinks that things are fine this way, when in fact you think differently.
This causes your frustrations to increase, until the point where your bucket overflows. At that point, giving feedback is not the smartest plan. After all, the recipient comes out of the blue, while you have been struggling with annoyances for a while.
So make sure you do not wait too long to give feedback. Did your colleague perform his work sloppily? Then speak to him or her about it as soon as possible. Even if that colleague is your employer, it remains important to express your frustrations in a timely manner, albeit in the right way.
It is a win-win situation. The recipient can then apply your feedback immediately and you no longer have to deal with frustration.
When your feedback is not concrete enough, the recipient doesn't know what to focus on. When you provide feedback like 'you're not doing your job properly', the person in question doesn't know what they're not doing properly. You will give the feeling that everything he/she does is not good. And that is often not the case.
Moreover, terms like 'your work' and 'not good' are general concepts. They have no defined meaning and you decide for yourself how to interpret them. What is not good for you? By being concrete, you ensure that the recipient immediately knows what you mean, without having to give an interpretation.
By giving feedback such as 'you make a lot of typos' or 'the last five projects you led had a problem with timing', the recipient knows what he/she has to work on.
The wrong timing is detrimental to the effectiveness of your feedback. If you suddenly give feedback at a meeting or just before a meeting, the receiver will feel attacked.
Also make sure that when giving feedback you yourself are not emotional or irritated. This will make you come across as negative, which in turn will cause your feedback to be not well received.
It is better to schedule a feedback meeting at a quieter time or to sit down together and take the time to talk. This ensures that you can have a quiet conversation together and that the feedback comes across properly.
When you are amongst colleagues and something happens that makes you want to give feedback, do this as soon as possible after the event. Do you see something? Then say so, but still keep in mind these tips. Be specific, and always ensure that you are subtle. Can't say it right away? Then wait until you are apart. That way you can have a calm conversation again.
A conversation is not a one-way street. If you don't give your interlocutor a chance to engage in the conversation, he/she will feel badly attacked again. The person in question just gets feedback, but is unable to show why and what they can do about it.
Whether it is a colleague giving you feedback or you yourself giving feedback to your employer. Give your discussion partner the chance to respond and listen to his/her explanation. This will make for a more light-hearted conversation and the recipient will also take the feedback to heart.
Also ask what he/she himself/herself thinks about it or what his/her opinion is. In this way he/she becomes more involved and it feels more like a conversation than an evaluation.
When you give feedback, you want the other person to pay attention to this and adapt it. The idea is that something changes by giving feedback. But by not suggesting a solution or alternative, you will remain stuck on the problem.
By doing so, you only focus on what is not right, without showing how it should be done. The recipient doesn't know what to do to solve the problem or actually implement the feedback.
By giving an example of the correct approach, the recipient often sees what is wrong and is prepared for the next time. So don't just let your interlocutor look for a solution, but look at it together.
Direct or attacking feedback makes the person you are talking to feel inferior and unworthy. The recipient will not be focused on your feedback, but will take it personally so that the feedback disappears into the background.
Make sure that you do not attack the person you are talking to. Rather, speak from your own point of view and tell what you experience: 'I don't like it when the figures are delivered late'. This is much less aggressive than: 'you always deliver the figures too late'.
Also, when giving feedback, try not to involve other people unnecessarily. You might think that this strengthens your position, but it often feels very offensive when you say something like 'you are always late, and your other colleagues complain about it too'. You tend to circle the issue because then the conversation will revolve around the friends, not the problem.
Say something like 'I've noticed that you're often late lately, is there something wrong? That way, the person you are talking to doesn't feel attacked and you go right to the problem.
When you give feedback, it is often only the negative aspects that are discussed. You go much deeper into what needs to be improved and where adjustments are needed, rather than talking about the things that are good.
Usually 90% of what he/she does is very good and the last 10% is not so good, don't spend 90% of your time talking about the 10% that still needs improvement. Also show that what he/she does is really good, but that there are still some some minor points of improvement.
Only naming the negative creates a negative atmosphere. Tell your discussion partner also what is positive and regularly say that he/she is doing well. This will motivate him/her to do better.
By paying attention to these traps, you ensure you are giving constructive feedback. But these pitfalls are only part of the story. We would like to give you a few more useful tips regarding giving feedback.
In our training course on giving feedback you will see the different ways of giving feedback, learn which way works and what the reactions are to it.
Do you have any questions or remarks relating to this blog article? Feel free to contact us
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