JEM Management Training

Do’s and don’ts of giving feedback

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As a leader, giving feedback should be a daily occurrence. Giving employee feedback regularly ensures clarity around expectations, helps them perform consistently and reduces the chance of mistakes/re-work or accidents.

Feedback is defined as

“Information provided about performance, behaviour or task accomplishment used as a basis for improvement.”

It can be positive feedback or constructive feedback but should always be helpful. There are some general guidelines about the do’s and don’ts of giving feedback.

Some of the obvious don’ts are:

  • Don’t give feedback, particularly constructive feedback, in an open forum. The last thing we want to do is embarrass the person as this will only lead to a negative reaction. Sometimes, even if the feedback is positive, people dislike it being given in front of others, preferring a quiet word of acknowledgement instead.
  • Don’t give feedback when tempers are frayed. It maybe you that is frustrated or the other party that is feeling angry or upset. Emotional exchanges are unhelpful so it’s best to wait until things have calmed down before the issue is addressed.
  • Don’t use general statements like “you’re not open to change’ or “you need to improve your attitude” which are not only accusatory but too vague to be useful. Such statements will only lead to defensive behavior and back and forth arguments. To deliver effective feedback, we need to spell out what the issue is by giving specific examples, hard evidence or facts. So instead of saying “you’re not open to change” we might say, ”I’ve noticed that when new ideas about how we function as a team are presented for example when Jenny suggested we spend 5 minutes every morning checking everyone’s schedules, they are quickly dismissed as useless. I’d like to explore that with you….

Remember to also focus on the do’s

  • Do plan your approach when giving feedback. This will help you feel more confident and enable you to communicate more successfully. Ask yourself:
  • What do I want to say? Define the issue or situation and if it requires positive or constructive feedback
  • How will I say it? There are many different frameworks that can help structure your communication
  • How might the other person react and how might I manage that reaction? This will help you cope with emotional reactions.
  • Do provide balanced feedback. We need to hear positive feedback as well as constructive feedback. This does not necessarily have to occur at the same time and is sometimes more effective if each type of feedback is delivered at different times. Research shows that the classic ‘feedback sandwich’ approach where we deliver positive feedback followed by constructive feedback followed by positive feedback has limited use. Feedback is more impactful if it is separated.
  • Do focus on solutions and opportunities for improvement. The intent of constructive feedback should always be to help someone improve their performance or behavior, therefore it needs to include actionable goals or a solution. Eg “What I would like to see is the template I’ve provided used for all future reports. This will ensure consistency”

Feedback should never be about assigning blame or wallowing in the problem, it’s much more constructive to focus on a solution or way forward. It’s also useful to get the other person involved in the solution by asking questions like “How do you think we could improve things?”

Giving effective feedback is a skill. The more we practice, the better we become. For more information on ‘Giving Constructive Feedback’ training, please contact jill@jemtraining.com.au

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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