Giving feedback provides colleagues and employees with an insight into how their performance is progressing, along with advice to help solve any problems.
However, for many people, hearing the words "Can I give you some feedback?" generates feelings of dread. It is usually perceived that the person giving feedback is superior to the person receiving it, putting the receiver on guard.
Although giving and receiving feedback can be a tricky process, there's no questioning its worth in business to help identify issues and solve them. Line managers should manage feedback in a positive way so that it can do what it's intended to do: improve and grow your organisation.
These tips can help you to give productive feedback whenever it’s needed.
Make the receiver comfortable. If the person receiving the feedback doesn't feel comfortable, this can lead to the feedback being ignored. If you don't have the kind of relationship with a colleague or employee that allows you to be frank with one another, make an effort to add civility and safety into your feedback approach. Avoid being mean spirited at all costs – your feedback won't be productive if it makes the other person feel bad or look foolish in front of others. Instead, frame your feedback in a way that creates opportunities to build confidence and skills.
Stay positive. Try to give at least as much positive feedback as you do negative. Positive feedback stimulates the reward centres in the brain, leaving the recipient open to taking new directions. Conversely, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on, letting defensiveness set in. You don't need to avoid negative or corrective feedback altogether, just ensure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.
Be specific. Specific, positive directions are more useful than vague, confusing ones. Feedback that’s ambiguous can be interpreted in a lot of personal ways. On the other hand, something specific and positive pointed at the task you want accomplished gives the employee a goal to strive for.
Don’t delay. The brain learns best when it’s caught in action. If you wait months to tell someone that their performance is sub-par, it’s more difficult for the feedback receiver to understand the changes required in order to change direction. For this reason, productive feedback requires giving it frequently: this way, performance reviews are just another office discussion.