Ahh feedback. It’s one of those things we all love to receive, but how many people know how to give it? Feedback is essential to personal and professional growth, serving as a tool for improvement and allowing individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Effective feedback can boost productivity and help employees develop their skills in a work environment. In an ideal world, managers and mentors only have to give positive feedback – but constructive criticism is also important.
There’s no doubt that giving feedback is integral to a company’s growth, and it can build stronger relationships between managers and employees when done right – but that’s easier said than done.
Luckily, we’re here to clear everything up for you. So, sit back, relax and learn all about the game changer that is effective feedback.
Why is quality feedback so important?
At its core, feedback is a tool for improvement. Whether it’s evaluating how a product works or individual and team performances, feedback isn’t there to insult anyone but to help them work on their weaknesses—and celebrate achievements.
Here are the main reasons why effective feedback is so important:
- Clarifying expectations: All managers have expectations for their employees, and feedback establishes clear guidelines on what each person should accomplish.
- Strengths & weaknesses: Feedback allows individuals to recognise their strengths and weaknesses and then take steps to improve them.
- Fostering a growth mindset: A growth mindset is vital for each employee and team member. Feedback is a foundation for people to improve their skills and contribute to a company.
- Building relationships: Constructive feedback can improve relationships between managers and employees by promoting collaboration and open communication.
Some stats on the power of effective feedback
- Managers that regularly receive constructive feedback have 8.9% higher profitability (Gallup).
- Around 69% of employees would work harder if they received feedback from their employer (Harvard Business Review).
- 43% of engaged employees get feedback from their employer once a week (E-Learning Industry).
What are the effects of bad feedback?
There’s a difference between effective and bad feedback, but some people find this out too late. If your feedback lacks clarity or empathy, it can lead to an employee feeling embarrassed and misunderstood, which impacts motivation.
Breakdowns in communication can also hinder professional development and halt production levels, which could have a knock-on effect on other employees.
According to People Management, a whopping three in five employees are disengaged in the UK, but businesses can potentially reduce these numbers by creating a better work environment and prioritising effective feedback.
Guider’s 10 top tips for giving effective feedback
So, now you know more about effective feedback, it’s time to look at ten great tips to help you provide constructive feedback and build better relationships with your team.
1. Be objective and specific
When giving feedback, it’s always best to be clear and concise with any information. For example, if someone’s developing a marketing plan and there are certain areas you feel aren’t right, focus on those areas.
Generalisations might seem friendlier, but they often lead to miscommunications. Be specific on which areas require improvement, and the person receiving the feedback will know what they need to do.
2. Offer examples
It’s also a good idea to support your feedback with specific examples, which help the individual understand the context and provide evidence to reflect on.
People respond well to examples, but it shows that you’ve reviewed their performance and are interested in the employee’s growth potential.
3. The sandwich technique
The sandwich method is highly popular because it combines positive feedback and constructive criticism. For example, the person giving feedback will start with a positive comment about the employee’s performance and then provide areas for improvement.
To soften the impact of criticism, it’s also best to end with a positive comment to soften the impact and leave the individual feeling reassured that they have your respect.
However, there’s a delicate balance between offering praise and going overboard, so make sure the individual understands the negative feedback too.
4. Focus on behaviour, not personality
Remember, feedback should never be personal, so focus on actions and leave personalities out of it. Focusing on actions ensures you maintain professional boundaries and don’t insult the individual.
Management teams have to be objective and ensure employees feel comfortable with receiving feedback, so it’s best to set actionable goals based on performance.
5. Don’t wait for ages
There’s no point in waiting for ages to give feedback because the individual might not even remember what they were working on. Employees can reflect on their actions when you offer constructive criticism soon after the event or observed behaviour.
Remember, being timely is also essential when giving positive feedback because you want to ensure your employees remain engaged and receive recognition for their contributions.
6. Have empathy
Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right? Your employees have them too. For example, maybe someone’s just given a presentation that didn’t go to plan, or perhaps they missed a deadline due to personal issues.
The critical thing to remember here is to approach the situation carefully and give your employee time to calm down. Using the sandwich method in situations like this is advisable because you can keep the individual calm.
7. Utilise active listening
Active listening is crucial when giving feedback, as it allows you to understand the recipient’s perspective. Two-way conversations are always more effective than one person talking and the other just listening.
Ask your employee how they feel about the feedback, and be sure to clarify any uncertainties they might have.
8. Prioritise growth and development
As Gallup reports, Millennials value roles with development opportunities more than any other age group. By 2025, this generation will become the most dominant, which means companies need to focus on making each job a chance for growth and progression.
Framing feedback as a growth opportunity instead of criticism allows the individual to realise their full potential and look forward to developing their role within the company.
9. Don’t bring others into the feedback
It might seem better to use ‘we’ statements when giving feedback, but it’s always best to use “I” when talking to employees as they don’t like feeling ganged up on.
The meeting is between you and the individual, so ensure they understand that you’re offering opinions and perceptions.
10. Practice makes perfect
Last but definitely not least, practice makes perfect. If you’re unsure how to give constructive feedback, practice with other people and ask for advice from senior managers or more experienced professionals.
Once you learn how to frame your opinions and remain professional, you can feel comfortable giving feedback to anyone.
Remember, receiving feedback is a skill too!
Giving feedback is as important as getting it, and most individuals, whether they’re managers or owners, will receive some kind of feedback from co-workers or clients. With that in mind, we’re finishing up with these tips for individuals on the receiving end of constructive criticism:
- Be open-minded: Approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn and improve.
- Seek clarification: If something is unclear, ask for clarification or examples to gain a deeper understanding.
- Listen actively: Pay attention to the feedback and actively listen to the perspective of the person providing it.
- Reflect and take ownership: Reflect on the feedback and assess how to apply it to your personal and professional growth.
- Express gratitude: Show appreciation to those who take the time to provide you with valuable feedback.
The bottom line
Following the tips in this post will ensure you give and receive feedback like a pro. With time and effort, you can be confident in your abilities, so don’t forget to practise regularly and be willing to learn from others.
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