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Art of giving & receiving feedback – The Ultimate Guide
Effective & constructive feedback is a must. Top performing companies, across the globe, run different employee feedback programs to boost employee engagement, productivity and a healthy work culture.
Did you know, as per a study on leadership effectiveness conducted across 51,896 managers - Leaders ranking in the bottom 10% of feedback givers have team engagement scores that averaged just 25% whereas, leaders in the top 10% for feedback givers witness team engagement scores that averaged 77%
Also, leaders in the bottom 10% of asking for feedback = lowest 15th percentile in overall leadership effectiveness, Leaders in the top 10% in asking for feedback = average top 14% for leadership effectiveness – think about it.
The Feedback Advantage - Importance of unbiased, constructive and comprehensive feedback
1. Bridges gap between perception & performance
Regular and relevant feedback helps build a transparent communication process and eliminate any ambiguity that might exist. A healthy feedback mechanism eliminates the chances of miscommunication and forms better relations within and between teams, boosting overall performance.
2. Leads to effective decision making
Constructive feedback helps make well informed decisions and improve efficiency. As employees have hands on experience with organization culture and business process, employee feedback acts as a useful source of valuable insights which further can be utilized to strategize better and aim at better business outcomes.
3. Feedback motivates
Feedback actually motivates employees to perform better. When employees are asked to share their opinion or are given feedback in the right spirit, it makes them feel more valued at their organizations, elevating their commitment levels. Giving and receiving regular feedback motivates employees and helps build better working relationships too.
4. Elevates employee engagement
Asking employees to share feedback and also providing them with regular feedback strengthens the “employee-company connect”. Better connect leads to greater employee satisfaction and engagement. When done right, a feedback program has the potential to increase the chances of employee involvement at work, better goal alignment, contributing to organizational and individual performance, business success and overall wellbeing.
5. Essential for self-learning & development
Unbiased and fair feedback is the key to continuous improvement and growth. Feedback, both positive and negative would enable employees to understand exactly where they are going right and what areas need to be addressed for improvement. Effective feedback process helps with continuous learning and development for employees, across the hierarchy.
Giving and receiving feedback in the right spirit is crucial for organization. Let’s look at how to give and receive feedback effectively.
The art of giving feedback
When delivered properly, feedback can stimulate positive behavior, fill in key performance gaps and ensure a healthy work culture.
1. Start with the positives
Thank the feedback recipients to their time. Start with the areas they are doing really well at and what their co-workers appreciate about them. Talking about strengths helps set a healthy tone to the whole exercise and enable the feedback recipients to be more receptive towards feedback, especially when it’s negative feedback’s turn.
2. Don’t go overboard with feedback
It’s important to understand that feedback has to be prioritized. Limit your feedback to the most pressing issues to start with. The aim is to help the feedback recipients acknowledge feedback and give them time to understand & respond. Too much feedback provided at the same time can be overwhelming for the feedback recipients.
3. Be specific
Feedback has to be concrete. Focus on areas and competencies that are measurable and trainable, for instance – communication, decision making, problem solving, team management etc. The goal of any feedback exercise is to bring about improvement, so our focus should be to identify the aspects on which can be improved with training and mentoring. Tapping in the untrainable aspects will be a waste of time and efforts, moreover, employees may find it difficult to handle being rated low on certain aspects with no knowledge on how to improve upon them.
4. Use the Sandwich approach (Praise – Corrective Feedback – Praise)
Feedback has to be balanced. Begin with praise – positives on working style; what are the feedback recipients good at, identifying undiscovered abilities/talent. Then identify specific areas of improvement - what are the key challenges they face at work, what would you like them to do differently, etc. Followed by a positive conclusion. The sandwich model helps to build confidence and keep the feedback recipients in a positive frame of mind, during the entire exercise. People are more likely to work on correcting a deficiency if they feel good about their performance overall. The goal of giving feedback is to encourage feedback recipients to make efforts to improve.
5. Be prompt
Timely communication of feedback is an imperative. Delayed feedback tends to lose its impact and importance. Feedback given at the right time boosts the possibility of faster improvement and development.
6. Make it an ongoing exercise
Whether one-on-one employee-manager dialogues or running a quick pulse survey or a 360 feedback survey, feedback should always be regular and continuous, not a one-time event. Also, organizations should make sure that managers are available for their teams and take interest in their efforts towards change.
The art of receiving feedback
1. Acknowledge, understand & appreciate the feedback received
Be thankful for the feedback received. Be receptive to the different opinions – both positive & negative. Listen to what your managers/feedback givers are really saying and try to grasp the spirit behind it, without making any assumptions. If you focus on listening and understanding what the reviewer/feedback giver is saying, you can absorb more information.
2. Don’t throw it back by making excuses
Ever heard of the saying “Effective Feedback is more like a present than a tennis ball” – it’s true! We cannot be on the defensive when we receive feedback, it’s important for us to accept it graciously. Don't take negative feedback personally. We need to remember that it’s not an exercise to pin-point mistake or gaps etc; rather it’s an exercise that aims at healthy development and growth of teams and the organization as a whole.
3. Take your feedback seriously
It’s important to be fully attentive and focused when you receive feedback, after all it’s for our own growth. Do not get bored, it has to be taken in all seriousness. If you look distracted or uninterested, it’ll send out a negative message. On the other hand, your showing interest will indicate that you value feedback being given and what someone has to say. This helps to have an easy and comfortable dialogue.
4. Do a self – evaluation
When we receive feedback (via report or verbal feedback), we all should do a self-analysis. Review your own performance, jot-down your points and ask questions to yourself (for instance - what could be the reason for your scoring low on certain competencies, etc). Self-evaluation is vital to gain self-awareness and form a context for your conversation with your managers.
5. Take it as an opportunity to learn, develop and improve further
Treat your feedback as an opportunity to understand your reviewer’s thinking process and as the basis of self-development. It is the feedback you receive that will highlight what areas of work need to be improved and how. Feedback is the very first step towards progress.
Feedback is beneficial only if it is backed by some concrete action planning. Once you know about your areas of strengths and blind spots, it’s time to identify the priority areas to be worked upon. Set up realistic and relevant goals (either individually or with the help of your managers) with specific timelines. Revisit your goals, keep monitoring and evaluating them from time to time. Remember not to set very high-end goals, because if you can’t achieve them, it might end up demotivating you.
In the end
Feedback given constructively has the best intentions. It is important that we understand the true value of feedback –
- Better work-relations
- Better organization culture
- Better goal attainment, Better employee engagement
- Better performance & productivity, etc.
The essence of feedback has got less to do with the content and more to do with how it is conveyed and received.
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