The Art of Giving Feedback
Giving feedback is an inevitable form of communication. Right? That’s actually a question whether or not and when to use it.
Some cultures are more feedback driven than others. Taken the western style it’s expected that superior provides feedback on often basis especially on the performance shortcomings.
In eastern cultures people tend to avoid it seeing as totally uncomfortable and unnecessary way of communication and focusing on giving instructions instead.
As much as it raises contradicting emotions it is important tool for managers to assure company’s strategies and culture are followed.
Yet one should be cautious since only effective feedback done with the proper intentions can lead to expected improvement. The feedback conducted in the wrong way can either cause downfall in productivity or be simply ineffective in the best case.
There is many good guidance for giving feedback. Still the most important output of reading it all is focusing on the goal we want to achieve thanks to it.
Starting the conversation with simple let me give you some feedback may set the tone for the discussion going forward. I think though every approach needs to be adjusted to the situation, its impact on the company and the aim we want to reach.
Therefore instead of following a pattern simply consider following.
The relevance – and if it makes sense to give feedback at all. According to HBR if given behavior or an error has overall a minor effect on the work environment, company’s profit or any other valid work frame you might think of then it’s sometimes better to let it go rather than cause employee’s overall frustration.
Before giving feedback consider if you can offer constructive proposal for corrective action.
If you can’t that is not a feedback but a communication ruining your relationship with an employee.
Based on that decide whether or not to start the conversation.
The tone and atmosphere – the feedback may sometimes regard issues that are uncomfortable and awkward to be raised because of the given case or because of a relationship you have with the other person. Here again the intention of the conversation sets the tone for it and ultimately has an impact on the outcome.
Nevertheless, regardless how calm or friendly you are you will always face defense in a way of rejection, blaming somebody else or accusation of offending.
And that’s normal. And that’s OK.
The place – from psychological point of view address a corrective feedback in an isolated area where you can discuss it face to face. On the other hand reserve open spaces among other employees for the positive expression.
The time – It’s said the sooner the better. I say, it depends. If we want to react to certain behavior that took place during the meeting than it’s best to do it right after. There are though situation where the conversation may take place at other time like when commuting together to work or having lunch together. Some things may be put off to an annual evaluation.
The time also refers to how much of it you devote to the feedback itself. I like the advice from Shari Harley, the founder and President of Candid Culture, a company specializing in creating better business relationships. She recommends the feedback to last no longer than 2 minutes. In reality no one wants to discuss his or hers flaws for 20 minutes. It gets humiliating and doesn’t lead to the aimed improvement.
The precision – the feedback has to be specific and related to given situation, behavior, etc. If it can’t be specific it’s not a feedback. It’s not effective to tell someone to be more organized without adding any specifics. Same for telling they are doing great. They will just feel confused or feel good (which is good of course) but without any reflection for the future.
So if you want to achieve something by giving feedback and this is the purpose for any feedback than you have to be precise.