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Find feedback a little uncomfortable to swallow?

November 15, 2010

Photo by Stuart Canham

Following on my last post (Got the performance review blues?) I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the related topic of giving constructive feedback.

Constructive feedback helps us to understand how we’re tracking in a particular role or task. It helps us to understand what is going well and what could be improved next time. Without feedback our capacity to learn, or influence team members’ learning, is slow.

However, in a work situation feedback conversations can be an uncomfortable experience, irrespective of whether you are giving or receiving the feedback. Managers frequently cite a fear of conflict and lack of appropriate skills when explaining their reluctance to engage and provide constructive feedback to team members.

Fortunately, there are some basic principles to help shape and guide constructive feedback conversations towards a positive outcome for all.

Constructive feedback conversations should:

  • Focus on behaviour not the individual. Feedback should always be referenced to something the person does or says not an aspect of their personality.
  • Be prompt. Provide feedback straightaway while the facts are fresh in everyone’s mind, but be mindful to choose a private, yet informal environment to have the conversation.
  • Be specific. Focus feedback on actual observation and explain precisely why the action or behavior is a problem. Be descriptive not judgmental.
  • Providing positive reinforcement of actions and behavior that are delivering results.
  • Encourage the sharing of ideas and explore alternatives rather than give advice. Help team members find a better way.

  • Be regular. The more frequently you have performance conversations the more likely they’ll become a natural and constructive aspect of day-to-day team relations.

Constructive feedback isn’t so hard to swallow is it?  So why not put it into practice and have that conversation today!

One Comment
  1. Thanks 🙂 couple of things I think are helpful for the ‘tough discussions’ – Do it in the afternoon, people will think overnight and it does not affect their work, or other employees.. As we are all human we will respond emotionally.. wrap negatives in positives and workable advice – we all make mistakes, and have a learning curve, so knowing ‘how’ to improve as well as self confidence in your proficient abilities is important..

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