WORKPLACE / NOV. 07, 2014
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How to Give Feedback Effectively

Most organizations have a process for carrying out performance reviews. This involves giving employees feedback about what they are doing right and where they need to improve. When carried out properly, giving employees feedback on their work can greatly improve their performance. In return, this enhances the success of the team or organization. However, giving feedback effectively is a skill that needs to be learnt.

Here are some tips for giving feedback effectively:

1. Make it a positive experience

Your main aim of giving feedback should be to enhance the performance or situation. Therefore, you need to ensure that the process is as positive as possible. Avoid giving feedback in an offensive, critical or harsh manner. People are more likely to improve when approached in a positive manner.

2. Be timely

When it comes to giving feedback, timing is very important. Be sure to address issues as soon as possible. For instance, if a new employee has a habit of dressing inappropriately, don’t wait six months before giving feedback. Summon them right away and address the issue. However, if the situation at hand is very volatile, it would be advisable to wait until things cool down before giving feedback. This will enable you to be more objective.

3. Be specific

Avoid ambiguity when giving feedback. Tell people exactly what they need to work on. For instance, when you tell someone they dressed inappropriately, what do you really mean? Was the outfit too revealing, too colorful or too casual? At all times, always remember to act on firsthand information. Never give feedback on the basis of other people’s opinions. In addition, avoid exaggerating your statements with words such as ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘all’. Using an accusatory tone will only make people defensive.  

4. Make it frequent

Giving feedback should not be an annual or quarterly event. Instead, this is something that needs to happen as often as possible. Problems should be dealt with before they get out of hand. Depending on the situation, people need to receive informal feedback on a weekly or even daily basis. This will keep them informed of their performance at all times.

5. Criticize in private

People don’t mind receiving praise or compliments in public. However, negative feedback should never be given in front of others. This will only end up embarrassing and demoralizing someone. Therefore, always be sure to criticize in private.

6. Use ‘I’ statements

When giving feedback, avoid labeling the person. Instead, you need to talk from your perspective. Say ‘I felt disrespected when you ignored my instructions yesterday’ instead of ‘You never listen to instructions’.

7. Offer specific suggestions

Before giving feedback, you need to think about what can be done to change the situation. This will show the person that you are concerned about their development and growth. However, avoid the temptation of providing all the solutions. Ask the other person to share their perspective on the situation and offer their suggestions for improvement.

8. Follow up

The main aim of feedback is to enhance performance. Therefore, you need to carry out follow up to find out if what was agreed upon is happening. Remember to document all your conversations during feedback for future reference.

Giving feedback does not have to be a daunting and demoralizing task. Instead, it can be a very effective way of promoting personal development in the workplace.

Image: Fortune Live Media, via Flickr

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