Feedback is both greatly desired and massively feared in most workplaces. Even though research has proven that people who receive regular feedback are much more actively engaged and motivated in their work, employers invest very little time in supporting their teams to give regular and useful feedback to each other outside of the dreaded annual performance review. Tessa Cooper, the founder behind Collaborative Future, explains the effects of feedback and why it has benefits for the greater good.
Think of feedback as either appreciative or developmental, not negative or positive
Part of the reason we fear giving or receiving feedback that is deemed critical is because it makes us feel bad. We shy away addressing important things people could improve on because of this. But when you consider your feedback as developmental it will help you be clear about why and how you should be delivering your feedback, making it clear your desire is to support the recipient to be the best they can be, rather than just nitpicking.
In addition, while many people are quick to provide a passing compliment or a generic “good job”, going one step further will help people feel truly recognised for their work and able to keep building on their strengths.
Make it specific
Specificity helps the recipient to connect with what you are saying and more easily identify what they need to change or build upon. Instead of sweeping statements like “your presentations are a bit boring” or “the team feel like you don’t care” provide a clear action or situation that occured and the impact that had on you personally.
For instance instead of “the team feel like you don’t care” you might say “At our last team meeting you were on your laptop a lot and not engaging with the conversation which made me think you were uninterested in the work”
In addition to being specific about what you’ve observed focussing on your own personal perspective will make it easier for you to discuss the feedback together and ensure the the person remains open to learning rather than defensive.
Focus more on strengths than weaknesses
Even though it’s important for all of us to be aware of our mistakes and weaknesses when that is all we hear about it can be hugely demotivating. It is believed that the ideal ratio between praise and criticism is 5:1. Not only will developmental feedback around people’s weaknesses be more impactful if it isn’t overly frequent but praising people’s strengths generally provides them with energy to keep going and improving what they do.
We perform our best when we play to our strengths so helping our team mates to recognise those strengths will get them doing their best job much faster than if you are constantly picking out their weaknesses.
Rushing feedback or providing it when it’s unwelcome will make your feedback much less effective.