Providing feedback typically brings with it a certain level of negativity and, for the intended recipient, considerable anxiety. This is such a shame, as feedback provided in the proper manner can be the source of valuable information and significant potential for improvement. Perhaps its origin can be sourced back to our childhood when feedback was provided as a means of protection and therefore was typically preceded by the word “don’t”. The bottom line is that feedback can either help to build on something you are doing well or identify opportunities for improvement; either ways it can be progressive.
Feedback typically comes in two forms; it is either given (offered) or it can be asked for. The Johari Window is a very effective tool relative to understanding this and at its core is the fact that, in the absence of feedback, we can have many blind spots. These might be habits, mannerisms, behaviors, performance expectations, etc, but we are largely unaware of how others are perceiving them and therefore the consequence. However once you do become aware, you have the opportunity to use this information to make the appropriate adjustments to make things better.
Whatever the circumstances, effective feedback should always be provided in a meaningful and positive manner and here are some of the keys for doing this well.
- Be Timely – procrastination does not work very well with feedback. It is best to offer it when whatever has occurred is still fresh and affords the recipient the opportunity to learn from it promptly.
- Be Honest – don’t try to sugar coat and tell half the story, but rather offer the feedback specifically and from an unbiased perspective.
- Be Helpful – do this from a place of wanting to help rather than discipline. This can be done by using positive language and offering your support in helping their progress.
- Be Regular – use feedback as a constant and ongoing means of natural communication rather than on an exceptional basis.
- Be Non-Judgmental – try to approach from the point of view that you are not rating somebody as good or bad, but just making them aware of a perception that exists.
When giving feedback, try to be mindful of the bigger picture. Assess what other factors could be present and are having a bearing on whatever is being communicated. Ultimately, whether you are a parent, leader or coach, the intention should always be to make the situation better for the receiver and those directly impacted.