Feedback is any information exchanged by employees regarding their performance, skills, or ability to work within a team. Both supervisors and peers may deliver feedback, and when done tactfully, the process can create a stronger, more harmonious workplace. Feedback is a valuable approach for bridging the gap between what someone is doing and what is expected of them.
When composing feedback it is useful to think of what the person that we are giving the feedback to, is required do more of and less of to be fully effective. It takes a strategic view of what a person is doing effectively or less effectively ‘today’ and what they might continue or change to achieve the organization’s objectives in the future.
Qualitative feedback is based on the organization’s goals and values. It is a shared understanding of what the future looks like, or a comparison of the where organisation is now in relation to where it is planning to be in the future.
Useful feedback should be focused on behaviours (NOT character or personality) and should be specific. A person receiving the feedback needs to know that what they are doing is creating an impression and impact.
Focusing feedback on patterns of behaviour of specific events and helps a person to change or prioritize targeted behaviour. Make it clear you are keen to help the person improve, rather than find fault and state the feedback clearly and directly, without being rude or uncaring.
Too often feedback is described with adjectives that interprets a person’s behaviour which is just another’s person interpretation and may or may not be accurate. Try to avoid adjectives when giving feedback and use verbs.
Constructive feedback can be both positive and negative. For a person to develop and increase their effectiveness, they need to know what they are doing well so they know to repeat it and further improve upon it, as well as what they are
doing less effectively so they can make adjustments.
Constructive feedback serves as important fuel for other changes that are needed. Recognizing progress is what positive feedback highlights and is one of the best drivers of engagement, motivation, and innovation.
Creating feedback that is truly useful requires more care and attention than is typically invested. Like any skill, offering feedback requires that we pay attention to and do many things effectively and simultaneously. Given the opportunity to help others develop and become more effective, it’s worth the effort.
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