It’d be virtually impossible to find a person who hasn’t given feedback of some sort. Unsolicited feedback could be called ‘a lecture’ since the person receiving it didn’t ask for it! Most of us have been caught at lecturing others, however what happens when you are asked to give feedback or you are a manager and part of your job is giving feedback?
Why use feedback?
Both positive and corrective feedback serve many purposes and when giving feedback keep these purposes in mind.
Creates a supportive, communicative, and successful working environment
When you give feedback on people’s strengths, weaknesses, and concerns, they feel supported. People grow accustomed to receiving feedback, so a culture of cooperation and communication is fostered, solving and even preventing many problems. People are guided toward meeting their personal and organisational goals by good feedback, which helps them to meet expectations. So they have a better chance of being successful – allowing your organisation to thrive.
Feedback maintains or creates professionalism and commitment. It helps people feel proud of their work so they make an emotional investment in doing a good job. It develops skills, so it fosters upward mobility, which is highly motivating. It helps people to feel valued and noticed, so they stay inspired.
Maintains and improves performance
Feedback keeps people on track, so they continue to meet goals and expectations. It corrects errors and drops in performance, so standards are maintained. Feedback also helps people set higher targets, and continue to improve their performances.
Lets people know how others perceive them
Feedback puts work into a human context. Not only can people learn how you perceive them and their accomplishments, but they also gain insight into how their work affects the people around them. This gives people a more objective understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Types of feedback
You use positive feedback to foster, encourage, or maintain the recipient’s positive behaviour. Positive feedback is given when people meet or exceed goals and expectations. Positive feedback is also given to inspire the recipient to meet even higher goals based on past successes.
You use corrective feedback to improve negative behaviour by helping people to change or improve their actions. Corrective feedback is given constructively when people fail to meet goals and expectations adequately.
Giving Feedback Effectively
There are three steps that you need to follow when giving feedback.
Step 1: Observe the individual’s behaviour
You should observe the behaviour directly, but without hovering around looking for errors. When observing, withhold assumptions and don’t jump to conclusions.
Step 2: Plan when and where to give feedback
Feedback should always be given in person rather than through an intermediary. You should give feedback as soon as possible and, typically, both positive and corrective feedback should be given in private within a work setting. When giving feedback in a group setting, such as a classroom, be sensitive, don’t single anyone out, and give it with the intention of helping everyone to learn.
Step 3: Give feedback effectively
Positive feedback should be specific, congratulatory, and should outline the impact of the behaviour and how this behaviour can be maintained or even improved on in the future. If possible, set a new goal for the recipient to aspire to.
Corrective feedback should be given so that it starts with a positive, then moves into the corrective criticism itself, and ends on a positive note with a view to future behaviour. You begin by providing specific and congratulatory positive feedback. Then you specify the behaviour that needs correcting in a supportive way, explaining the impact of the behaviour. It’s best if this is a dialogue rather than you telling them what they’ve done wrong and why they’re getting it wrong. Finally, you end with positive supportive feedback, suggesting ways to improve. Don’t just find fault. Give people solutions to work toward, so they feel positive, supported, and confident about what to do in the future.