Whether you have leadership responsibility or are a proactive member of a team (or both!), giving feedback is a valuable technique that will enable an individual to understand the impact they have on other people.
Giving feedback though can often be fraught with difficulties. For example you may worry about how the other person will react to your feedback, whether they will get angry, upset or even aggressive.
However we have outlined below some simple guidelines that if followed will reduce the likelihood of the other person reacting badly to the feedback you give.
- Remember feedback should not always be about things that someone hasn’t done properly, it should also be used to reinforce things that have gone well too.
- Always give feedback when it is fresh – in your mind and the other person’s. It is a waste of time referring to something that happened 3 months ago, the other person will probably have forgotten about it and will wonder why you haven’t discussed it before.
- Prepare what you will say in advance; think through what you will say and how you will say it.
- Don’t give feedback in front of others, or in a public space.
- When giving feedback ask for the views of the other person first by asking open questions – “tell me about how you think your presentation went’. It may be that they already know what you are about to tell them.
- Give feedback on what you observed. Make sure you are specific about the details, when, where, how often etc.
- Own the feedback you give – “I saw, I heard, I observed …”, and stick to the facts and don’t be judgemental ( ‘you are too slow, careless, short tall etc!’), and don’t be vague ( ‘that report was great!’).
- Discuss the impact their behaviour/actions had on others. For example – ‘The impact of you not turning up on time to the focus group meeting was that the meeting finished later than planned.’
- Talk to them about the consequences of their actions. ‘The consequence of you turning up late was that our consumers felt we were very unprofessional.’
- Finally agree with the other person what actions are needed, and what the resulting outcomes will be.
Whatever your role, whether you have leadership responsibility or not, giving feedback to others effectively is a valuable skill, and the hints and tips provided above will enable you to give feedback in a more confident and effective manner.