For many of us, when we hear the word feedback we think, “Oh no, what are they going to say about me?”. We can feel an increased level of stress or anxiety and try to avoid the conversation or person. That’s because feedback will often be received as personal criticism, lacking in objective facts and observations.
At all levels in organisations people generally have a fear of giving feedback for fear of it being taken negatively. Yet many are also neglecting to provide positive feedback or to seek feedback themselves.
- Start with the positives. Starting with what’s been achieved will help overcome concerns about discussing what went wrong, or could be improved upon.
- Be specific about what an individual has done well, describing what you have observed and inviting a response. Getting this right takes time, but it will add immense value to the recipient when providing both constructive and positive feedback.
- Having a clear intention is very effective in delivering feedback and building trust with the individual.
- Prepare. A planned approach will make it easier to go through what is not working so well and how you can work together at improving things. Again, it is about being objective, not personal, and free of any agenda.
- Seek feedback. Ask managers, direct reports, or key stakeholders for specific examples of areas of strengths and opportunities for improvement. Knowing our blind spots enables us to be more self-aware so we can correct the behaviour.
Using the skill of feedback at work and in everyday life reinforces positive behaviours, enhances performance, team work and ultimately your career progression. It also enriches both our self-awareness and relationships. It raises the bar, engenders respect and helps people stretch, grow and face reality.
Research shows that the most effective, dynamic, functional, resilient and agile teams are those in which feedback is an intrinsic part of the culture. With that in mind, be sure to leave a comment below, offering me some feedback on this piece.
About the author: Joanne Lum has been an Executive Coach and Facilitator at the Stephenson Mansell Group since 2005. Her background as a Clinical Psychotherapist, together with her understanding of what it is to be an effective leader and manager of people – gathered from more than 15 years in the corporate sector – makes Joanne well placed to assist individuals and groups in developing their interpersonal and leadership skills and competencies.